The magical Groupon thinking of Republican tax policy

We kept seeing it over and over again from Paul Ryan in his last Fox News interview. I thought he was dodging a question….

But no. In fact, it seems from the debate last night that the entire Romney Campaign has opted for the confused mish-mash of magical Republican tax “policy” as the rabbit hole they plan to hide their intentions down.

No, they say. All the cuts in taxes we’re making are “revenue-neutral.” This is based on the notion that, if you cut taxes, you’ll make up those tax revenues in spurred economic growth. That, and of course closing a few undisclosed tax loopholes that the millionaires who fund elections apparently won’t mind losing.

Let us, for the moment, set aside the fact that most professional scorers cannot seem to find a way in which the closing of loopholes closes the revenue gap. Lets focus on the idea that lowering taxes will increase revenues. Or rather, that without the slightest bit of accounting or math, we can just assume the money will come back in increased revenue.

The Groupon analogy

Think of this like you’re a restaurant owner using Groupon. You create a coupon that says “20% off your dinner,” and you hope people pick up the Groupon and come to your store. No matter how you slice it, every time someone walks into your restaurant with a Groupon, you lose 20% of your normal revenue. Whatever else may be true, that discount cost money.

You hope that, by offering the coupon, you get an increase in customers, therefore offsetting the loss: if every single customer that day comes in with the Groupon, you lose 20% of your revenue for the day. You hope to increase your sales by at least 20% to offset the cost. But there is – as many, many business owners have already discovered to their great chagrin – absolutely no guarantee that, because you’ve created the coupon, the resulting revenue will make up for it.

Republicans are making the same bet and hoping you won’t notice. The proposed 20% across the board cut in taxes will cost the government… 20%. They insist that cuts are “revenue neutral,” but what they’re really saying is, “we bet they’re revenue neutral,” because they’re betting we make more money from increased economic growth. That’s a much different statement.

Say it out loud: there is no guarantee that, because you’ve cut taxes, you automatically gain revenue.

There are lots of other problems with this magical tax cut policy. Like for example: just because you’ve had your taxes lowered, that doesn’t mean you’ll get more money from your boss, does it? How does lowering payroll taxes automatically mean increased revenue? Because of sales tax? Oh, right. There isn’t one of those.

The only people for whom this Groupon thinking (might) work is the vaunted “Job Creator®” class. Which by the way, is the only group of people Mitt’s actually talking to.


If 100 Percent of Students Pass, 100 Percent Also Fail

Your kid is dumb. Sorry.

Well, maybe he’s not dumb. Maybe he learns differently or perhaps thinks differently. No, not learning disabled, though that’s a possibility, too: just maybe a writer or a musician, not a mathematician. Hey! Maybe they like fixing cars or working in machine shops.

But fuck all that: Kirstin Gillibrand needs to make you think she cares about education, and so like all politicians, she’s going to push the “Math, Science and Engineering” canard as our route to a better tomorrow. This according to an article by @innovationtrail :

Gillibrand: Math and science are key to the future of the workforce | Innovation Trail.

Remember when our economy was doing so much better? Yeah, that’s when we made stuff. We don’t make stuff anymore and the insistence that our future lies in lab coats and masters degrees has been part of the problem for lo this past forty years. But because there is a natural instinct for parents to want to see their kids do better than themselves, there is a natural tendency to vote for the person who makes you think that might happen. And every politician – from Gillibrand to Obama to Paul Ryan – plays that instinct for all its worth. In fact, its not even an instinct as much as it is a reflex.

And the NCLB insistence that *all* children pass math and science at a certain level is also part of this problem. Gillibrand is trying to repackage that turd as something more constructive, but we’re right back where we started. If your kid doesn’t pass the class by 2014, well, we’ll either have to kick him out of school or else lower the standards to match his dumb ass.

The truth is that education is not machining: you don’t get to set some tools, run a few test pieces, and then let the machine turn out perfectly-similar parts all day long. Education is an intensely personal and highly individualized pursuit that requires the kid to find their own path and the teacher to help them. No kid is ever the same, nor would we be anything less than horrified if our children were returned to us as automatons. Yet this is what is required.

Education is, in fact, a horrible political chess piece in that it is just barely quantifiable in the first place. What, exactly, qualifies as a success story? A better quality of life, perhaps? And what does that mean? No, better that we stick to proven-ineffective standardized testing that yields the statistics that look so good on a campaign flier.