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On the C-SPAN television program Washington Journal (Sunday August 14, 2011) Democratic strategist Mark Mellman appeared and gave viewers a lesson on how the political left lies and distorts in order to score political points against what it sees as easy targets.
Mellman said: “The tea party comes out, and has really done real damage to this country. Most people in this country think it’s okay to to stop giving subsidies to oil companies. The tea party says no. Most people say it’s okay in the country to make corporate jet owners pay taxes, or hedge fund managers pay taxes. The tea party says no, you can’t do that, you only have to cut spending. And what spending do they end up cutting? They want to cut Medicare, they want to cut Social Security. Those are the plans that have been put forth by the Republican Party.”
Mellman is not alone in his use of these lies and distortions. They are stock talking points of the Democratic Party and liberals or progressives. It’s a low form of demagoguery that picks a few targets that are easy to stir up hatred for, and then distorts facts without any regard for the truth.
On the oil industry, for example: The magnitude of the subsidies and tax breaks to the oil industry is about $4 billion per year. Eliminating this is not going to come anywhere close to balancing the budget. As a matter of fact, this annual amount that President Obama complains about is just about what the U.S. borrows each day to cover its spending in excess of its revenues.
But being a relatively small amount is not a reason for ridding the tax code of these measures, even though some of the tax measures appear to be similar to treatment that all industries receive, such as the ability to intangible costs associated with drilling a well. To the extent that conservatives and tea party groups oppose eliminating special tax treatment of the oil industry or any other industry, they become just another special interest group. It is essential for our country to eliminate preferential tax treatment and the spending of money through the tax system.
Regarding Mellman’s assertion that we need to “make corporate jet owners pay taxes” — with the implication that presently they pay no taxes: This is a lie. The measure Mellman refers to is an economic incentive implemented in the form of accelerated depreciation for purchasers of corporate jets. This provision allows companies to deduct depreciation costs from their income sooner, so they save on taxes now rather than later.
(This incentive, by the way, was part of President Obama’s stimulus bill passed in February 2009.)
Depreciation is an accepted concept that allows companies to recognize the costs of their capital investments over time, which is appropriate for purchases of long-lived assets like airplanes. Accelerated depreciation doesn’t increase the total amount of depreciation that can be deducted from income, and therefore doesn’t decrease the tax that must eventually be paid. While not as blatant as other forms of preferential treatment found in the tax code, this provision should be eliminated with all others.
Of course, taking a deduction this year rather than in a later year is valuable. But receiving this deduction a few years sooner is nowhere near the same as paying no tax at all, which is what Mellman asserted.
At the same time Mellman and liberals attack industries they sense they can stir up hatred towards, they pick programs they believe are unassailable to accuse conservatives of attacking.
For example, Mellman mentioned Medicare. He didn’t tell viewers that President Obama has proposed cutting Medicare spending, too. It’s rare that any Democratic source mentions this.
And according to the Washington Post at one time this summer Obama proposed Social Security cuts as part of the debt ceiling negotiations.
In either case, the changes that are usually proposed to these programs by conservatives are quite gentle, and recognize that reforms must be made or these programs will sap the country of its vitality.
Democratic political operatives, on the other hand, ignore these problems and attack those who recognize them. They must do this. The entire system of modern American liberalism is based on the lie that human freedom and liberty is enhanced by expanding government beyond what is minimally necessary to secure our true rights and freedoms.