For a few years I have been a HUGE fan of The Young Turks, a progressive online news commentary program. However, in recent months my enthusiasm has abated significantly. The leading reason is a perceived one-sidedness in the show’s coverage of certain issues, most notably tax cuts for the wealthy. Now, as TYT points out, it is a progressive news commentary program. They are very clear about their perspective. Unlike Fox News, they don’t rigorously promote a political agenda while claiming to be neutral.
A big issue in the US right now is whether or not to continue the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. The arguments offered by proponents (e.g., Republican politicians and pundits) for extending the tax cuts is that by keeping money in the hands of Americans – all Americans – jobs will be created by way of individuals spending more, and wealthy people and businesses investing and hiring more. Counterarguments to this are that 1) tax cuts for the very wealthy stimulate the economy less than money in the hands of the lower and middle classes, 2) the level of job creation anticipated by proponents of such tax cuts has not been realized in previous attempts of this experiment, 3) of the jobs that have been created, a very large chunk of them have been created outside of America (e.g., China), and 4) such tax cuts would further expand the national debt.
When it comes to issues of balancing the budget, my impression is that the progressive course of action is the way to go. So, where is the slant? The slant is in portraying this issue exclusively in terms of 1) Republicans (and Blue Dog Democrats) thumbing their noses at the middle and lower classes in order to help their rich buddies get richer, and 2) macro-economic impact. I have not heard TYT give much time in a long time to the fundamental libertarian perspective that no one should be subjected to forced charitable donation; people should be able to choose what they do with their money and resources. When you look at it from this perspective, it’s no longer about screwing over non-elites to further escalate the power of those at the top. It’s about allowing all people, including the rich, to have more choice over what is done with what is theirs. Furthermore, even with the continuation of the Bush tax cuts the super-wealthy still pay WAY more in taxes than others.
Now, when it comes down to it, perhaps at the level of the actual politicians and policy drivers (e.g., lobby groups), it really is largely about doing the bidding of elites. Moreover, in considering everything presented in this post, keep in mind that I myself am progressive leaning. I understand and respect the libertarian point of view, and am probably more libertarian than most progressives, but at the end of the day I support such things as universal healthcare, a social safety net, and so on. But in the interest of being able to have an honest political conversation, can we at least dignify other reasonable perspectives that many Americans do genuinely hold?
This post was motivated by the video below, in which only a progressive/left-leaning perspective was given on tax cuts to the wealthy.