January 25, 2010

Joe Klein Isn't Paying Attention

Attention, Americans!  Joe Klein thinks you're stupid.  Specifically, he thinks you're stupid ingrates.  The $787 billion stimulus package -- most of you agree with me that it was wasted.  Why?
Nearly three out of four Americans think that at least half of the money spent in the federal stimulus plan has been wasted, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday morning also indicates that 63 percent of the public thinks that projects in the plan were included for purely political reasons and will have no economic benefit, with 36 percent saying those projects will benefit the economy.
 But, Joe Klein protests, "the largest single item in the package--$288 billion--is tax relief for 95% of the American public. This money is that magical $60 to $80 per month you've been finding in your paycheck since last spring."  Well, you've lost me there, Joe Klein.  Because despite the next item you point to in glowing terms -- "$275 billion in grants and loans to states" -- I haven't found any magical $60 to $80 per month in my paychecks.  My taxes have gone up.  And that's not just from the fact that California is now withholding more in state taxes (a forced loan of my money to the state, which is a questionable credit risk in my estimation) but in fact my Federal taxes have increased, too.  I'm taking home less money in objective dollars now than I did in 2009.

So maybe I'm part of the 5% of Americans who saw tax increases.  But that would have put me in the bracket of those whom Obama said he would seek repeal of the Bush tax cuts, meaning that between The Wife and I, we'd have an income of at least $250,000 a year.  And that has not happened yet, at least not as of the publication date of this post.  No, I was promised on September 12, 2008, that my taxes would not increase:
I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.

This is, that hasn't happened.  The opposite has.  It's not dramatic; my take-home is now about $200 less per month than it was in 2008.  Most of that decrease is from California stealing withholding more.  But not all.

So what's happened with that money?  (Money we borrowed from your grandchildren.)  I don't think there's a whole lot of good explanation for that.  It seems to have vanished.  I see signs advertising new road construction here and there, but for the most part they're slapping on a new layer of blacktop on the roads in question.  This is the smart infrastructure we were promised?

Now, Klein is right about some of his complaint. Some of this money hasn't been wasted because it hasn't been spent yet.  Like upgrades to our power infrastructure, likely to be the equivalent of the new blacktop I find on a poorly-traveled road in a declining section of my home town.  So, we've already appropriated money to be wasted in the future.  But no, it hasn't yet been wasted.

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