Joe Weisenthal Quotes Sven Jari Stehn on Delong And Summers
Liveblogging World War II: March 25, 1942

Why You Learn Less than Nothing from the Typical New York Times Columnist: Swooning for Paul Ryan Edition

James Kwak:

Why Do New York Times Columnists Keep Swooning for Paul Ryan?: James Stewart,,, attempts to defend Ryan’s tax proposals against charges that they favor the rich:

To me it sounds like a proposal to raise [the wealthy's] taxes by depriving them of cherished ‘loopholes,’ to use the proposal’s word…. There’s no getting around the fact that a 25 percent rate on the top earners would nearly double Mr. Romney’s effective rate and more than double it for the 101 of the top 400 taxpayers who pay less than 10 percent, assuming the loopholes are indeed closed…. Despite Mr. Ryan’s reluctance to specify which tax preferences might have to be curtailed or eliminated, there’s no mystery as to what they would have to be. Looking only at the returns of the top 400 taxpayers, the biggest loophole they exploit by far is the preferential tax rate on capital gains, carried interest and dividend income….

Stewart… is… assuming that Ryan must be proposing to eliminate those preferences: “there’s no mystery as to what they would have to be.” Only they aren’t. Stewart quotes directly from the FY 2012 budget resolution authored by Ryan’s Budget Committee. But apparently he didn’t notice this passage:

Raising taxes on capital is another idea that purports to affect the wealthy but actually hurts all participants in the economy. Mainstream economics, not to mention common sense, teaches that raising taxes on any activity generally results in less of it. Economics and common sense also teach that the size of a nation’s capital stock – the pool of saved money available for investment and job creation – has an effect on employment, productivity, and wages. Tax reform should promote savings and investment because more savings and more investment mean a larger stock of capital available for job creation.

In other words, taxes on capital gains should not be increased, but if anything should be lowered.

Stewart assumes that Ryan wants to raise capital gains taxes because that’s the only way to justify a 25 percent top rate as anything other than a massive giveaway to the rich. But Ryan himself has said he doesn’t want to raise capital gains taxes.* It really is a massive giveaway to the rich. The reason Ryan won’t specify the “loopholes” he wants to close is that he can’t…. Stewart has fallen into the trap of believing that Paul Ryan is something other than a charlatan and a political hack…. How Stewart missed this is baffling, since the passage I quote is from page 51, and Stewart quotes directly from page 50.

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?