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Pay No Attention to the World Behind the Curtain

Photo credit: Fuzzy Gerdes

Photo credit: Fuzzy Gerdes

Bruce Bartlett is the latest to point out that all the conservative demagoguery about America’s crushing, business-destroying tax burden is completely devoid of any context in time or space.

If we ignore the tax rates which are rendered meaningless by loopholes and creative corporate accounting, we see that our actual tax revenues compared to GDP are very low both chronologically and geographically.

He also notes that in GDP percentage terms, we spend roughly double what most other developed countries spend on health care, without coming anywhere near to universal coverage.  And when he compares taxes plus private health care spending, suddenly our total burden doesn’t look quite so light (although still a little below average compared to the rest of the developed world).

Republicans don’t just rely on faulty logic (Tax cuts pay for themselves! Eliminating Medicare will make insurance cheaper!), they also rely on America’s ignorance of history and the outside world, and the media’s refusal to report on them.  It’s a lot harder to argue that the deficit is caused by excessive spending and the economy is sluggish because of excessive taxes, when everyone knows that our taxes are already ridiculously low by any measure… and it’s not helping at all.

Likewise, how can anyone say that expanding government health care will be horrendously expensive and inefficient when our largely private health care system is already horrendously expensive and inefficient compared to other countries’ public health care systems?  Or, conversely, that the Ryan plan to throw seniors to the private insurance wolves will magically increase efficiency?

Unfortunately, our corporate-owned media has no interest in reporting much of anything beyond Republican talking points and tepid Democratic responses, so too many Americans will go right on believing that our economy is being strangled by taxes and that public health care is inherently more expensive than private.  And instead of getting an antidote, we’re just going to get more poison.

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