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Mark Shields
Mark Shields
13 Feb 2016
Make America Great Again -- at Torture!

The undisputed front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination who, like every other remaining … Read More.

6 Feb 2016
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"Do you ever get the feeling," asked humorist Robert Orben, "that the only reason we have elections is to … Read More.

30 Jan 2016
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Mark Shields is off this week. The following is a column by Joe Conason. In our polarized politics, the … Read More.

Your "Job Creator" Is My "Robber Baron"


Our Republican friends in Congress do not speak of the wealthy, or the well-heeled, or Heaven forbid, the robber barons. No, the rich are referred to respectfully and euphemistically as "job creators."

That would be as in House Speaker John Boehner's committing to "end the uncertainty plaguing job creators." And how do we do that? Boehner's answer: by "ending the threat of tax hikes." The front-runner among likely candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, stated, after President Obama recently urged ending the Bush-era tax-cuts on those earning over $250,000 a year, that, "The last thing we should be doing is raising taxes on the job creators ..."

Of course, that is exactly what the only Democrat since Franklin Roosevelt to win a second White House term, Bill Clinton, did in 1993. Without a single Republican supporting him in either the House or the Senate, Clinton raised the income tax rate to 39.6 percent for the most prosperous, the top 1.4 percent of Americans. We were told by the leading Republican crepe-hanger of that era, former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, that "(President Clinton's) tax bill is a one-way ticket to a recession."

What followed is history. Even with that onerous burden on the most affluent, more than 21,844,000 new private-sector jobs were created during Clinton's presidency. This was immediately followed by President George W. Bush, who was totally committed to lightening the load on the moneyed "job creators." Bush cut the top rate from 39.6 percent down to 35 percent, which according to the respected Tax Policy Center, meant a 7.3 percent average increase in after-tax income for the most privileged 1percent of earners — oops, job-creators.

By way of comparison, the effective federal tax rate for the 400 highest earners during the first Clinton administration was 30 percent on an average individual income of $50.9 million.

By 2007, after the Bush tax cuts had kicked in, the effective federal tax rate on the 400 highest earners had fallen to just 16.6 percent, while the average individual income had swelled to $345 million.

Major problem was that very few jobs were created during Bush's eight years in office. In fact, on the day George W. Bush in 2009 left the White House, there were actually 673,000 fewer Americans employed in the private sector than were on the day of his first inauguration in 2001.

But at least those "job-creator" tax cuts pay for themselves, right? Not so, according to two chairmen of President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisors. Chairman Greg Mankiw in his textbook wrote that there is "no credible evidence" that tax cuts pay for themselves. More emphatically, Mankiw wrote that an economist who makes such a claim is a "snake oil salesman who is trying to sell a miracle cure." Chairman Edward Lazear in testimony before the Joint Economic Committee of the Congress stated that "I certainly would not claim that tax cuts pay for themselves."

With all this evidence, then, why do so many elected representatives — mostly, but not exclusively, Republicans — persist in championing more and larger tax cuts for the gilded plutocrats — sorry, job-creators — as the silver bullet to guarantee national prosperity?

For an answer to that question, I quote the unvarnished candor of a great American, the former Republican Senate leader and GOP nominee for vice president in 1976 and president in 1996, the honorable Bob Dole, who once explained to reporter Al Hunt, then of The Wall Street Journal, that "poor people don't make campaign contributions. You might get a different result if there were a 'Poor PAC' (political action committee)."

Tax cuts for the wealthiest downsizers and outsourcers are not a jobs program.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at




9 Comments | Post Comment
It wouldn't be so galling if they'd just admit to being transnational plutocrats.

I'm not much for nationalism, but there's something to be said for being willing to give up some of your vast fortune for the good of your country. You might even call that patriotism. (And once you're very, very rich, how much richer do you need to be? How many houses can one person live in?)
Comment: #1
Posted by: Steven Doyle
Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:08 AM
They are indeed job creators. Chinese jobs, Indian jobs, even Vietnamese jobs. The fact these jobs only benefit the existing investor class and work against 80%+ of American citizens is, of course, to be completely ignored.
"Pay Less, Live Better"? you HAVE to pay less when your standard of living is dropping, right?
Comment: #2
Posted by: GeorgeC
Fri Apr 15, 2011 7:59 AM
Mark Shields; Sir.... You ask why with all this evidence do so many elected representatives persist in their championing of tax cuts as the key to prosperity... The answer must have passed through your thoughts for you to ask the question... Evidence has nothing to do with the subject... There is nothing in the subject to call forth reason... Marx may be said to have understood capitalism in his day, but the true proof that some one understands capitalism is their making tons of profit at every turn... No one thinks that a knowledge of capitalism may be essential to the survival of it as a working person, and as a human being... You may say that societies rot from the top down, but it is inevitable that the corrosion of it can infect everyone from top to bottom...We see before us the fallacy of capitalism in its face, where more failed ideas are offered as the cure for failed ideas... How often in your life have you seen people destroy themselves with drink, and persist in seeking drink as though the cure for their ruined lives??? People are not rational, and rational arguments sway but few... And Just as with religion and politics; economics does not invoke reason... Forget your evidence... Forget reason... Ideas get a hold on the weak minded, and their ideas think for them... If their ideal is that capitalism is the horn of plenty they will try to mass produce it...It does not matter that the destruction of individuals must be nationalized, or that the whole nation must be foreclosed upon... It does not matter that capitalism is disease, or that from the perspective of reason more disease does not cure less disease... People let their ideas think for them rather than using ideas to think... No idea is worth more than the price periodic re-examination gives to it... We all have to look beyond our ideas and at them... When it is obvious that our ideals are not producing an ideal world we must be prepared to chuck them, and consider practical solutions... Tax cuts for the rich, like government by the rich, and government for the rich is an ideal that has come and gone, but is chronic because those who push the idea find some reward in it... There is nothing in it for the people but poverty and national destruction...Some day the people will realize that those who refuse to pay taxes have plenty of money to loan the government so for the rich, the government can be paid to bleed the people... They do not fund the government, but loan the goverment money to take from the working class, and those debts could simply be cancelled... How is it that government must continually bail out the ship of enterprise, and does so with money borrowed from the very people they must save???.. If you would understand this situation, you must see that we all dream of being rich, and we idolize the rich... Survival is not happiness; but a nightmare... Survival demands much work and more worry... We will not rub any lustre off our idols we so admire for their untroubled lives... If reason says that poverty draws near, and the possibility of wealth recedes with every effort to keep the rich free of spoliation; then reason be damned... Thanks.... Sweeney
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sat Apr 16, 2011 5:29 AM
Let's see. Under Clinton, the top 400 payers paid a total tax of 400*0.3*0.0509 Bn = 6.1 billion dollars to the feds. Under Bush, the top 400 payers paid a total tax of 400*0.166*0.345 = 22.9 billion dollars to the feds. The government's tax receipts from the top 400 payers thus increased by 375%! So, when tax rates were cut on the wealthy, the government's total take balloooned. I'll bet the same holds true for the next top 400 payers, and so on.
Comment: #4
Posted by: SY
Sat Apr 16, 2011 7:39 AM
No one even mentions Ronald Reagan in the diatribe. Clinton was riding on the tsunami of that Reagan created when he left office. Jimmy Carter had left the country in shambles, it was Ronnie that saved us and Clinton took the credit.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Bonesecos
Sat Apr 16, 2011 1:27 PM
Did my previous post hit a sore spot? Why was it removed, it had no vulgarities. In fact the article by Shields is much more vulgar than what I posted.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Bonesecos
Sat Apr 16, 2011 1:47 PM
Tax cuts for the wealthy were tested and failed under GW Bush. I can't for the life me figure out why stellar talking heads like Gwen Ifle and others don't back the tax-cut purveryors up against the wall on that point when being interviewed and force them to answer that one.

If they say tax cuts just needed more time to work, or try to argue that things would have been much worse without them, the next question is: how is that different from Obama explaining his bank bailouts and stimulus spending? And who wants to wait that long anyway?
Comment: #7
Posted by: Masako
Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:05 AM
Re: SY So what you're saying is that the gross income went up for the rich people because of the tax cut? The GDP under Clinton went up from around 8.3 trillion to about 11.3 trillion. Under Bush it went from about 11.3 trillion to 13.3 trillion. A bit short. Do you think that the reason for the huge income tax cut to the top people, or does this mean Bush gave ways of not putting net income on books as well?
Comment: #8
Posted by: Brian Welch
Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:41 PM
Question for Mark Shields: Why should some people have to pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes? I do realize that they have more left than poorer people, but it still seems wrong to expect anyone to pay 39.6% of their income in tax. I think a flat tax is fair. Sure, Bill Gates will still have a lot more money than me after he pays his taxes, but he also will be paying a lot more dollars in than I will, and I will have a part in our government because I do pay my part. I never want to be in the place where I sit with my hand out expecting others to give to me just because they have what I do not.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Sherry C.
Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:09 AM
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