Thank you, Mike, that's a bit better. I'm not exactly clear about the time and details of the situation, so I don't think I can give you as good a response as you deserve, and you should bear in mind that I don't agree with all things Democratic, as we've discussed before. But I'll try to ball-park it and trust you to supply more information as we go to help us look at the situation in detail.
The situation when Kennedy came to office in 1960, as I recall it, was that the highest tax brackets paid in the neighborhood of about 90% tax on income they made over whatever the cut-off point was at the time. Both of us would have to do further research to tie down exactly what those figures were. As I recall, the tax for the same bracket in England was the same or even higher. There were ways around these taxes even then, such as the use of tax exempt municipal or government bonds, which preserved income and even allowed it to grow at a modest rate, safe from taxes, in return for what were thought to be "socially useful" investment strategies. Kennedy himself, when he entered office had some portion of his money tied up in tax exempt municipal bonds. He felt that cutting the capital gains tax and income tax rates from the then current extraordinarily steep rates would serve as a stimulus to investment. Whether that was the case or not is unclear, but it does seem to have worked that way.
Were the distribution of wealth still the same today as it was 50 years ago, and were the rate of taxation still the same, the effect of tax cuts might also have remained the same. If you remember, we went through the outlook for the use of tax cuts a few weeks ago when we were talking about how useful tax cuts might be in the current economy. I had to do some research to find an article for you in the Conservative anglo/american magazine The Economist that explained why even most conservative economists thought the Laffer curve doesn't predict current economic conditions and why tax-cuts lose money for the governments. (They only pay for about 70% of the money lost, apparently.) If you can find that old thread, the list of articles and research is there.
So if Mr. Bush is using Mr. Kennedy's arguments to support his proposal, I would suspect there may actually be a reason for the cries of outrage. Without more information, I cannot say for sure. Did, for example, Mr. Kennedy's tax cuts pay for themselves? The Economist, suggests that Mr. Bush's are not doing so now and will not in the future. Did Mr. Kennedy's tax cuts serve to stimulate the economy as a whole? It's not very clear that Mr. Bush's tax cuts are able to do so.
I am not suggesting, by the way, that I know the answer about Mr. Kennedy's policies. I do not know the answers there. I am able to suggest that those people who are offended may know or think they know those answers. They may be right or wrong; I haven't researched it yet. We do not know that Bush and Kennedy have the same thoughts on tax cuts, we only know that one wanted to cut tax rates of 90% and the other wanted to cut tax rates ion the mid-30's. One tax rate even I find confiscatory. The other is, by the standards of most industrial nations, extraordinarily reasonable. Not that I want to pay it, mind you; but it is reasonable.
I would also venture to say that when you suggest that tv commentators blasted it, you may be stretching things a bit. I say this without looking at the reports themselves at this point, though I will, if you'd like me to. I'd be willing to bet that there wasn't much critical said on Fox, for example. That the rest of the major networks remained reasonably quiet about it, including Tim Russert, and that only a handful of commentators mentioned it at all. And that the majority of the comment was from Fox news being critical of those who Fox news thought shouldn't have said anything.
Did you see anything except on Fox news about this, other than packaged reports about these commentators with edited clips being shown on Fox news itself? You certainly may have. I'm not much of a TV watcher myself,
but I can't recall any coverage of this at all. I believe you that it was there, of course, but I'm wondering if the difference in our viewing habits may account for the different emphasis each of us seems to place on the story.
Now for this actually to qualify as a red herring, it would need to be a distraction from something else of rather larger import that was happening at the same time.
Since I don't know the time line on this, I need your help in locating what that might be. Your thesis is that the Democrats were using this to draw public attention away from some sort of more important public issue—using it as a red herring—what might that issue have been at that time? It should have been to the advantage of the Republicans to have discussed this other issue openly and directly and not to have let themselves or the public interest be distracted.
This has, so far been quite interesting for me, by the way, and I hope for you as well. I'm as interested in tracking down Democratic fouls as Republican ones. I know that there as many rascals on either side of the divide. My interest is in seeing that the decent people of both parties be able to work something out. Being a Democrat, my hopes are more with the Democrats, but I know there are decent and honorable Republicans around as well. Best wishes, Mike. Your, BobK.