Home > Main > Winning even when you lose vs. losing even when you win

Winning even when you lose vs. losing even when you win

August 6, 2011

I like to win even when I lose.  I like to frame debates where even when someone doesn’t agree with my strongest claims, the result is I win the intellectual battle.

This is something that Republicans know. They lost the battle on the debt ceiling – but even talking about the debt ceiling is a huge win.

This is why I am nearly furious at Paul Krugman.  Payroll tax cuts are a winning political stance – we win even when we lose.

The payroll tax cut is excellent politics.  You mean we get to have Republicans reject a tax cut that helps working people over and over?  This is a fight that we win even when we lose.

If we get the tax cuts – Great!  We have a better economy.

If Republicans block the tax cuts – great! They are exposed as odious monsters that dont’ like working people.

But Paul said we should lay down in front of the freight train – We’re doomed:

“I mean, there’s good reason on economic grounds to be skeptical about the effectiveness of temporary tax cuts as stimulus; Milton Friedman’s permanent income hypothesis tells us that much of such cuts will be saved, not spent. But leave that on one side, and consider a point Mr. Roche doesn’t seem aware of: Republicans have already rejected a payroll tax cut.”

Cullen smacks down PK with an effortless backhand:

” For instance, President Obama made it pretty clear that he was going to reject any debt ceiling agreement that involved a balanced budget agreement last week.  But you didn’t see John Boehner roll over like a dog and take his ball and go home.  No, he turned into a bull dog and ultimately, the Republicans ended upgetting something for nothing.  THAT’SPOLITICS.  It’s called tough negotiating.”

We need to act like progressives.  Stephanie Kelton says:

“Is this really what it’s come to?  Experts in the field — even those with a Nobel Prize — can’t stand up for what they believe in unless they consider it politically feasible? An extension of the payroll tax cut — or, far better, a full payroll tax holiday (a 0% withholding for employers and employees) should have been a key component of the stimulus from the beginning.  But the deficit doves (the most high-profile progressives out there) never supported it.  Had they advocated such a policy, there’s a good chance the economy would be on sound footing by now.  “

I want Paul Krugman to think about this.  He is avoiding a fight that turns out great for us even if we lose it.

Someone call Paul Krugman and tell him to fight this fight.  Get a payroll tax holiday out there into their minds.

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  1. Clonal Antibody
    August 6, 2011 at 9:57 am


    You missed the import of Scott Fullwiller’s comment in Kelton’s post. The important point to note is that with a payroll holiday, even if the money is saved, that saving repairs the balance sheet, and becomes critically important when we are having a “balance sheet depression.” Scott makes the point that Krugman has no concept of a “balance sheet recession/depression”

    • TC
      August 6, 2011 at 10:04 am

      I didn’t see that comment. Thanks Clonal!

      I wanted this post to be about the political side only. The economics of the Payroll Tax holiday are great for several reasons.

      But the PTH is a winning political strategy. The worst possible outcome is good for Dems. PK whiffed on this one.

  2. Tom Hickey
    August 6, 2011 at 9:57 am

    The economics of the payroll tax cut is fine, the politics not so much. The public is vastly in favor of keeping the Big Three unchanged. Many perceive the payroll tax as necessary to fund them. Anyone favoring cutting the payroll tax is therefore accusable of trying to gut SS and Medicare. So far only the Dems have put SS, Medicare and Medicaid on the table, and only the Dems have proposed cutting the payroll tax. The public is already moving toward the view that the GOP can be trusted to preserve the Big Three more than the Dems. Without an understanding of MMT, this is perfectly logical and the GOP will make this case in the ’12 campaign.

    Economics cannot be divorced from politics. They are joined at the hip by policy.

    • TC
      August 6, 2011 at 12:33 pm

      I suspect that people are much more against more government spending as opposed to government deficit spending. Its like new programs count more than tax cuts, or something.

      I say that any time we’re talking about a threat to social Security, it’s good for Dems. We can always trot out the repeated attempts to cut SS by repubs – along with actual votes.

  3. Tom Hickey
    August 6, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Crooks & Liars: Polls show President Obama’s talk on Social Security is turning voters off to the Democratic Party’s handling of the program (Jan 2011)

    “”For the public, cutting benefits is the problem, not the solution,” said Guy Molyneux, a partner at Hart Research Associates. As a result, the pollsters said that any Democrat seeking elected office in 2012 should be begging Obama not to say anything about Social Security cuts in his State of the Union address later this month.
    “A post-election poll by Celinda Lake’s Lake Research Partners found that, by a margin of 3 percentage points, Americans now trust Republicans in Congress more than Democrats when it comes to Social Security — surely the first time since the program became a signature issue for the Democratic Party in the 1930s.
    “The poll found confidence in Democrats on the issue dropping 14 points just since January 2007, accompanied by a 13-point increase for Republicans.
    The public favors congressional Republicans over Obama on Social Security by an even larger 6-point margin.”

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