Scary Debt Slasher

They were like cannibals, eating their own party and leaders alive. They were like vampires, draining their country’s reputation, credit rating and compassion.

Maureen Dowd on the Tea Party Republicans that turned Washington D.C. into a political horror show.

36 Responses to “Scary Debt Slasher”

  1. Tom Gray says:

    Maureen Dod writes

    They were like cannibals, eating their own party and leaders alive. They were like vampires, draining their country’s reputation, credit rating and compassion.

    Radical members of the Tea Party could write something very similar about the effect of the “liberal elite” on the US. Until people drop the inflated rhetoric, this culture war is going to go on and on and on.  What does Dowd think she is going to accomplsih by calling people “cannibals”. Are they going to be convinced to drop everything and  run out to buy subscriptions to “Mother Jones”, “MSNBC” and “The New York Times”?

  2. Matt B says:

    Good for Maureen, at least she properly quoted people in this article.

    Now, as to the whole Tea Party maniac image, I agree that their position of no taxing of anyone even if they make a boatload of money and pay a pittance in taxes is bull; either they agree to higher taxes on the top 5% or else they propose a better tax code that gets more revenue from the huge flow of money the top earners receive. That has to be done & they are a major disappointment in their inactivity to address this.

    But, if pundits like Maureen don’t see there is a big, big problem in spending and debt, then they are just shills for a crappy status quo. The inter-generational conflict is coming and the youths of today will be the voters tomorrow, and they will see they have been royally screwed. They will be getting the huge debt payment bill for the crappy education they receive, for the ridiculously overpriced health care system we are determined to keep in place (I give Obama a bit of credit for attempting health care reform, but what came out does nothing to address the systemic overpaying for medical this country), and they will pay, or not pay, for the Social Security Ponzi scheme.

    At least the Tea Party is making an effort to shake this Zombie nation from its stupor. I do not agree with all their positions but at least they are broaching some unpleasant truths. I don’t see Maureen’s demonizing them as being particularly insightful or helpful, and in that she doesn’t disappoint me.

  3. Sashka says:

    It is so rare to see both left and right to be so badly pissed off.

  4. RickA says:

    I see a huge problem in the tax code.

    Did you know that in 2008 and 2009, 50.8% of the tax filers had zero or negative federal income tax liability!

    49.2% of the tax filers paid 100% of the federal income taxes.

    When a majority of voters can vote to make a minority of tax payers pay 100% of the federal income taxes – we have a huge problem.

    It is hard to argue that the rich don’t pay their fair share when more than 1/2 of the tax filers pay nothing in federal income taxes. 

  5. RickA says:

    Here is the cite for the support for the 50.8% number who paid zero or had negative tax liability for federal income taxes: 

  6. Jeff Norris says:

     Gotta love that new tone and civility everybody was talking about in January.  I hope everybody still recognizes that what elites and major media figures say can affect what masses perceive and what some individuals do.  At least she did not call the Tea Party terrorists, that would be wrong.

  7. Jon P says:

    Who was on tv many times scaring grandma and veterans they may not get paid?

    Who was constantly telling us this would be an economic disaster?

    Who said to Cantor “Don’t call my bluff” about raising taxes?

    Which party not only had not passed a Federal budget, but did not even submit one in either side of Congress, for 800+ days?

    Which party passed two resolustions on the debt ceiling issue?

    Who had their bluff called and folded and pretty muched caused this whole multi-month fiasco to occur?

    Who thinks this “deal” is worth jack?

    btw, Eliminate the “Bush”tax cuts on those who make $250K+ and you only add $70 billion revenue annually, still need $1+ trillion to balance the annual budget.

    Let’s tax those who make $1 million or more at 100%, oops that will only be $1 trillion additional revenue, still short.

    It is a spending problem, raising taxes is not going to help with this, not a bit.

    **Info based on IRS Modified taxable tables from 2008

  8. Dean says:

    @4 – looking at only income tax is a normal trick. Other people pay plenty of payroll taxes, for example.
    @7 – who said that taxing the rich a bit more will on it’s own solve the deficit? When sacrifice is called for, it must be shared. Only when it is shared will it be forthcoming in a democracy. The money that comes in can help defray the impacts of some cuts, but shared sacrifice is not an abstraction – it is a necessity in a democracy. It is the only thing that will in the end convince liberals to accept any restructuring of entitlement programs.
    It’s like with TARP – the reason so many people were against it is not because of it’s cost, or even it’s impact. They were against it because it rewarded those who caused the problem. It fundamentally violated people’s sense of fairness, so no argument on whether it worked will matter.
    The current issue with the FAA demonstrates quite well the Tea Party government-by-ultimatum methodology. Pass a law that they know would not under any circumstance be accepted to the other branches of government (what the founders called checks and balances), and which has not been adopted in recent years for that reason. Then just skip town leaving the rest of government with the choice (and hopefully to them the blame) for putting tens of thousands out of work while they enjoy their month-long vacation.
    Keith – the whole issue with the Republican House demonstrates the weakness of your prized find-the-center strategy. The House is willing to hold government hostage in every circumstance they can think of, again and again. It’s kind of like a game of chicken in which you know the other party is willing to drive head on into you because they are confident that nothing will happen to them. Of course you are the one to swerve and so they own the road.
    Don’t get me wrong. I respect people who stand up for principle. But it needs to be matched with others who stand up for principle. It doesn’t work to have one side stand on principle and the other just looking for some pragmatic center. I’m not a Democrat and I don’t know if, as a whole, that party even has a principle to stand on. But if it doesn’t find one, the results are uneven as we now see.
    Obama and his supporters can continue to fret about the results of standing up to the House, but repeatedly not doing so has it’s eventual cost as well. Maybe next Tuesday’s recall elections in Wisconsin will find them a backbone.

  9. Jon P says:


    Of course Dean, tax the rich to feel better not to solve anything. I prefer to try to find solutions that work and not continue this manipulation of the public through BS.

    “When sacrifice is called for, it must be shared. Only when it is shared will it be forthcoming in a democracy.”

    Hmm 47% of the population does not pay Federal Income tax, what are you saying about shared sacrifice again?

    The House is holding the country hostage is a laughable childish bunch of malarky.

    The Federal Government has increased spending by 14% in each of the last two years. Democrats and Republicans seem not to be aware that we have a spending problem.

    First, we should immediately return to 2008 spending levels, across the board, including defense, everything.

    Second, re-work the tax code and make it flatter with less deductions and loopholes.

    Only by making a serious effort in reigning in spending will I support any modifications to the tax code. It is as simple as not rewarding bad behavior.

  10. Dean says:

    Income taxes are not the only sacrifice called for. Austerity is a sacrifice as well. It’s a transparent tactic to simply pay attention to only income taxes.
    By the way, I don’t in any way doubt the seriousness of the debt issue. It could destroy this country. But the House is not offering real solutions. Nor is anybody else in a position of authority, including the Senate and Obama. My point is that for structural deficits, a solution will appear only when everybody contributes via some sacrifice. That includes income taxes, other taxes, as well as loss of government services.

  11. RickA says:


    “Other people pay plenty of payroll taxes . . .”

    Yes – I know.

    Did you know that payroll taxes are flat.

    Thats right – the same rate no matter what your income.

    I believe it is about 6% for SS (with a cap over a certain income because benefits are capped).

    I believe medicare is 1.45%, with no cap.

    So 49.2% of the filers pay 100% of the federal income taxes – and also pay the same rate (of course a lot more dollars) for SS and medicare.

    So whats your point?

    You think it is a “trick” that 50.8% of the tax filers pay zero federal income taxes – I say it is a huge problem when a minority of tax payers (oops I mean filers) pay 100% of the individual federal income taxes.

  12. Dean says:

    I say it is a trick to focus on a part of the tax burden, and not all of it with these statistics.
    Look, I don’t expect to convince Rick A or Jon P here nor do I see this blog as a forum for debating federal tax or fiscal policy. We have a clear difference of opinion of perspective on some key issues. It also seems clear that some kind of 50-50 compromise is not forthcoming on these issues. There needs to be a clear airing of these issues from both sides in such a way that voters can make their choice.
    At the moment, it is the Republican conservatives who are most clearly airing their side of this viewpoint and standing by it. Democrats are kind of split between airing the other side and calling for compromise or some kind of 50-50 policy split, which is simply not forthcoming.
    The time has come for Democrats to stop whining that Republicans won’t meet them half way and to clearly state their opinion, and stand by it as well. Some Democrats are doing this, but they are mixed, and policy-wise, they are not doing this. Six months ago, polls showed the public close to Republicans and now they are closer to Democrats. Who knows where they will be in Nov 2012.
    Divided government can sometimes work, but the Founders did not foresee political parties and partisanship. It isn’t working now. The idea that because almost everybody hates the debt ceiling deal, it must be good, is hogwash. It prevents us from going into default, for now, and that is all. We’re going to keep having these kinds of brouhahas until the voters clearly decide one way or the other. Compromise can be a valuable thing, but sometimes people need to make a choice, and we seem to be there now.

  13. Jon P says:

    No tricks Dean, it is called math. For the Democrats position to be one of “shared sacrifice” “rich pay their fair share” and “need to increase taxes” is asinine after two years of raising spending by 14%.

    There should not be a compromise to the idea we should raise taxes, not to solve the deficit/debt issue, but to feel good about ourselves or some warped view of fairness.

    I repeat, cut spending, real cuts and then and only then should we redo the tax code. There is no point in sending more money to Washington if they cannot reduce spending, which this current deal does not do, it only reduces the rate of growth against a baseline projection, complete BS.

  14. D. Robinson says:

    Here is (i think) a really good reference for this thread:
    The top 10% are paying more of the total tax load than they have in the past and it has been every increasing for years.  But at the same time they are getting a higher percentage of the total income.
    RickA – I agree with your sentiment, but those 50% do still pay social security, medicare and sales taxes.  Plus, their employers pay their payroll taxes.
    Here’s the simplest truth I think you can say about all this “Spending Drives Debt”.  If you spend less, you will owe less. 

  15. Brandon Shollenberger says:

    Does anyone else think comparing members of a political party to mass murderers is something which should be condemned?  About the only good thing I can see about this comparison is at least it isn’t calling the Tea Party terrorists, a welcome change of pace.

  16. JD Ohio says:

    I guess Maureen & the left have forgotten how vitriol can lead to violence.  The hypocrisy of the left in criticizing right wing vitriol while spewing it out in enormous gobs is stupendous.  Also, Keith in light of your past concern over the effects of over-heated rhetoric (see columns following Giffords shooting) why would you highlight Dowd’s rhetoric when there are undoubtedly reasoned criticisms of the tea party’s role, minus Dowd’s vitriol.

  17. RickA says:

    Yesterday I heard Chris Matthews imply that the tea party members of the house were violating their oath of office by not being willing to consider raising taxes.  He seemed to believe that being so intransigent was almost un-american.

    I think it is a violation of their oath of office for members of Congress to knowingly spend more money than they take in.

    Congress is allowed to borrow money against the credit of the United States.

    But is spending more than you take in “borrowing”?

    I don’t know.

    But I would opine that being fiscally conservative, and only budgeting what you project for your revenue, is actually more true to the oath of office than recklessly spending 1.6T more than the revenue projections.

    Even with the 2.2T trimmed from the rate of increase with the “deal”, we are still going to add 7T to the national debt in the next 10 years.

    The national debt will go from 14 to 23T in the next 10 years – and the “deal” merely stops it from going to 25T.

    I am with Jon P – I would like to see actual cuts also.

    A cut is when you spend less money than the year before – not shave the rate of increase from 8% to 6%. 

    True sacrifice would be for everybody to take a haircut on their particular government spending program.

    Sure we can raise taxes – but we are already at the point where a minority of taxpayers pay all the individual federal taxes, and the bulk of social security and medicare. 

    We need to set our budget at 2T per year for the next 10 years, and not 3.8T per year (and rising). 

  18. RickA says:


    Thank you for the link – I found it very interesting.

    Of course, you are correct that even individuals who don’t pay federal income taxes are paying payroll taxes, and the company share also has to be considered.

    However, most people put up with social security and medicare because they believe they are in effect, forced saving against their retirement.

    However, since the vast majority of people pull out more than they ever pay into social security and medicare (up to 3 times as much as they pay in), they cannot really argue that they “deserve” their social security and medicare.

    Look – I know this is going to be difficult to solve.

    Lets try this:

    I am for means testing social security and medicare.  Nobody 50 and younger really believes social security and medicare is going to be there for them anyway.  I don’t.

    I am for raising the retirement age – not 2 years over 60 years – but five years right now.

    Why not tie the retirement age to the actuary average lifespan – that seems fair to me. 

    I am even for rationing medical care.

    How about a lifetime cap of some sort.

    How about 2M in todays dollars per person?

    We simply cannot afford to provide unlimited medical care to everybody, for life.

    It won’t be long before everybody (on average) lives to be 100 – then what?  I see it coming in the next 25 to 50 years.

    We will have to choose how to direct the dollars – and not everybody will be “saved”, because there just isn’t enough money to pay for everything for everybody.

    I personally would rather see money directed at preventative care, rather than spend gobs of money in the last 6 months of a terminal patient’s life – and that is surely rationing medical care, but it is probably rational.

    Anyway – Dean is right – we do need to discuss all of these issues and choose.

  19. Keith Kloor says:

    Some commenters on this thread will be interested in this post.

  20. lucia says:

    Maureen Dowd’s columns are often substance free. That one is really amazing.  I have never understood why the NYT runs her columns. Never.

  21. Jon P says:


    From your link:

    “I have a lot of trouble saying anything good about the Tea Party. The Tea Party — and the obstructionism and rigid adherence to orthodoxy it represents — has done more to undermine U.S. economic, diplomatic and military power than al-Qaeda.* That is no exaggeration”

    I say BS. The article and the author deserve no further effort or brain cycles.

  22. Tom Fuller says:

    I am to the left of Mo Dowd. I agree with Lucia. She veers from being Mistress of the Obvious to Lady Vapid.

  23. Sashka says:

    @ lucia

    I think it’s because a significant part of NYT readership is comprised of opinionated left-wing feminists like herself. Substance is not required where opinions are abundant.

  24. cagw_skeptic99 says:

    Those of you who think that your ’employer’ pays half of the Medicare and Social Security taxes are just another contributor to the fantasy. As an employer, the amount I can afford to pay an employee makes no such distinction; the money all comes out of my payroll account.

    The ’employer pays half’ fantasy is just another lie fed to gullible taxpayers. The roughly 15% of payroll going to the US Government is coming out of your pocket, and a more honest discussion would be occurring if you understood that.

    Adding the 15% to the 25% Federal income tax bracket that applies to married folk making over 68K, then adding the State income tax and unemployment/workers compensation taxes gets close to 50% in high tax states. The Social Security tax stops at about 106K, but Medicare goes on forever.

    Those couples making over 106K get a 12% decrease at 106K, but the 25% goes up to 35% and along the way they start taking away deductions.

    There are rich folks who completely avoid income taxes, but most of those own municipal bonds and accept the lower ‘tax free’ rate just to avoid paying taxes. The logic by which the ‘rich’ are not paying their fair share at 35%, when those doing most of the complaining are paying only the 15% in Medicare/Social security, is interesting. Fair would be 40 or 50% maybe, but when we have the higher rates we have more people leaving the country, engaging in tax shelters that often do not benefit the people who would like to be hired by those same rich folk, and so on.

    Leftists who complain the loudest about jobs going to China are the most deluded folks from my point of view. Production goes where it can make a profit, and all those taxes on the rich and the greedy capitalist corporations are just part of the decision process that leads to the complainer’s jobs going overseas. But maybe those calculations don’t mean much to the ones on welfare, as they don’t have to worry about jobs anyway.

    The top

  25. Tom Fuller says:

    Sashka, plenty of other NYT writers manage to deliver heaps o’substance.

  26. Dean says:

    I think that a fundamental aspect of the debate is the supply vs demand side issue. Many issues like stimulus, tax policy, etc, follow from this.
    Are jobs created more because the wealthy see an opportunity for profit, or because a large and economically confident middle class creates demand? Of course both play some role, but this debate seems to hinge a lot on which of the two is dominant.
    The most prosperous decades in this country’s history were after WWII when there was a large middle class and tax rates on the wealthy were at confiscatory levels. Those tax rates may or may not have been fair, but they did not prevent GDP growth, job creation, or widespread prosperity. If somebody has the money to buy, somebody is going to do what it takes to sell it to them. But if nobody can afford to buy, there simply is no profit to be made, irregardless of tax rates. The middle class are the real job creators. And it is their debt, not the Federal one, that has made this economic downturn so stubborn.

  27. RickA says:


    I also think that productivity has exploded in the last  10-15 years, which is also suppressing job creation.

    What with computers and other technologies getting faster and cheaper, we can do a lot more with less employees than ever before.

    This is not just in manufacturing, but also white collar jobs as well.

    Another downward pressure is moving jobs offshore – again both blue and white collar jobs.

    So I think that is part of the slowdown in creating jobs, and will continue to be a downward pressure for years and decades to come. 

  28. Dean says:

    No disagreement there. Automation and globalization have contributed to undermining job and wealth creation for the middle class in the United States. But they didn’t suddenly create the crash in 2008. They are an underlying factor.
    I do think that they have contributed a lot to debt, both private and public.  Many people can afford a lot less than 40 years ago, but they are not asking for or accepting less. They have more technology, but the cheap and abundant techno gadgets so many have is matched by the housing and secondary education and health care that we can no longer afford on our own. College debt is really a great example of all of this.

  29. Keith Kloor says:

    “Leftists who complain the loudest about jobs going to China are the most deluded folks from my point of view.”

    You mean deluded leftists like this one, right? 

  30. Andy says:

    Most of the arguments here seem to be more about keeping score than anything else.  The fundamental problem we have in this country is that we collectively like government services and benefits but our collective obligation to pay for those services doesn’t match what we think we deserve.
    The Tea Party, therefore, isn’t the problem – they didn’t create this situation.  They are the first of probably several reactionary movements in response to decades of unsustainable policy – IOW they are a symptom of something bigger and more fundamental.  The quickest and best way to get rid of the Tea Party is to address those fundamental issues.  Demagoguing against them is only going to make them stronger and it’s a ultimately a wasted and pointless effort.

  31. Sashka says:

    Tom Fuller: I know but those write for the more intelligent part of the readership.

  32. JD Ohio says:

    KK No. 9,

    “So, no comparison [between the right’s use of vitriol as opposed to the left]. Not even close.”

    Keith, hope you are ready to modify your opinion in light of the unhinged opinions of the left in response to the Tea Party and the debt ceiling negotiations.

  33. Brandon Shollenberger says:

    @33, JD Ohio, just think about all nonsense people spouted off about the Tea Party in the past.  Practically nobody spoke against it then.  Why would anyone expect people to speak out against it now?

  34. JD Ohio says:

    #34 Brandon
    You would expect a little bit of introspection and a little bit less vitriol following the positions taken by the left after the Giffords shooting.  However, the Dowds and Krugmans of the world, with their tunnel vision, are impervious to reason, logic, and consistency.

  35. Tom Scharf says:

    It was pretty clear to everyone the message that was sent by the voters in Nov 2010 who elected the Tea Party congress members and the platform on which they were running.

    Reduce govt spending, reduce govt size.  

    They did exactly what they were asked to do.  This my friends, is Democracy working and the American people instituting change by working inside the system rules.  Really annoying, huh?

    Don’t like it?  2012 is another election.  The left better come up with a better plan (any plan would be a start) for handling the debt, or they can look forward to more of the same. 

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