Thursday, April 14, 2005

Manufacturing Crises

As is being widely noted in the blogosphere and the news, this estate tax is on the road to repeal. I wrote about it yesterday, but should issue a correction. When I said that it would cost $290 billion in the next 10 years, it was techinically true, but that means it would cost $290 billion between 2005 and 2015. But it wouldn't take effect until 2012. In the 10 years between 2012 and 2022, it would cost close to a trillion dollars to repeal the estate tax.

Many are rightly noting that it seems to be the height of idiocy to push through another trillion dollar tax cut on one hand while screaming that we don't have enough money to finance our obligations to the Social Security Trust Fund on the other hand. Conservatives argue that we'll meet with a shortfall and have to raise taxes again to cover it. But if they hadn't so drastically and precipitously lowered taxes in the first place, would we be in this place?

Is it not possible that this "crisis" in Social Security's solvency has been a carefully calculated and manufactured one? It seems quite easy. Ramp up the rhetoric, talk about giving back "your money" to the people, until it's not politically viable to vote against massive tax cuts. Then, when all of a sudden you've cut the government's revenue like crazy, say that you won't have enough money to pay back the obligations to the program which you despise. Maybe, more rightly, the program devised by someone you despise.

So we'd have to raise taxes, huh? Well, screw that, say the American people! We have the God-given right to lower taxes, to keep our money, etc. How quickly we forget that just a few short years ago we had higher taxes, a balanced budget, and no trumped-up crisis about Social Security.

So the smartest thing to do, probably, is to eliminate the estate tax, which would go about halfway toward funding the liabilities owed the Social Security Trust Fund by the federal government.

Way to go, guys.