Why Are These Two Things Different?

At Rortybomb (which has migrated to Next New Deal), Mike Konczal takes arguments against lower rates on student loans to task.

My only question is this: Are taxes owed to the U.S. government a kind of debt? For instance, say I work freelance, and don’t have an employer to take them out on a weekly basis for me. I will owe the state and federal government something come the end of the year. And, because I likely don’t have $1000+ of flexibility in my monthly budget, I’ll have to set aside the amount myself, little by little each month, so that come tax season I have enough to pay what I owe.

It’s already established that I owe the government money. And it also seems pretty evident that I need to pay that debt little by little each month (or week) because I can’t pay it all at once. I will owe the government X at the end of the year. We don’t know how much X will be, but I will owe it, and it will most likely be more than I’ll have on hand at that time, so I have the option of paying it through a pre-emptive installment.

So aren’t taxes a form of debt? And if so, why don’t Republicans feel as strongly about cutting government student debt as they do about cutting taxes? Fiscal hawks wouldn’t want to upset the balance sheet, but most (at least many) Republicans seem fine with the idea of “starving the beast.” So why not starve their other debt collectors, and not just the IRS?

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21 thoughts on “Why Are These Two Things Different?

  1. I find it interesting that the author notes that since those loans are net positive income (profit) for the government, they should reduce their profit. I get where he’s coming from with that, but I don’t think it’s anything like the gimme that he thinks it is. Personally, I kind of like my government doing at least one thing that shows some direct ROI!

     

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  2. Well, quarterly estimates are the rule for taxes, and you have to have a minimum of 90% of all taxes owed paid by the end of the year, or they will come out and wrack you. I meant that figuratively, but Lord knows, they’ve changed just about everything else by now, so they might really be doing that nowadays.

    Republicans have this thing about charging fees for government services. I don’t really agree with a lot of it, because certain things people should have access to regardless of their ability to pay.

    I think the ‘starve the beast’ thing went out right along with ‘compassionate conservatism.’ It’s just so 20th century. Matter of fact, ‘compassionate’ might just be a euphemism for ‘blow money.’

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  3. I think you’re conflating “fiscal conservatism” which is an economic strategy, and “Starve the Beast” which is a political strategy. The economic strategy dictates that government should be spending on as few services as possible while the political strategy hypothesizes that politicians are not required to wait for that spending to get cut before they can slash taxes.

    Keeping student loan rates low perpetuates a government service, so it’s wrong on principle even if it starves the beast. Really, the same goes for any government program; you could similarly ask why Republicans are against Medicaid or SCHIP, another program that also starves the beast. And the answer is that the end-game is spending cuts, Starve the Beast is just an intermediate tactic.

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  4. Konczal blows it here.  I’d rather not “invest” in womyn’s studies grads or community organizing majors. You can’t lump all higher ed together as wealth-creating.  Some majors will do just the opposite.

    In fact, I’d rather roll the dice on a Solyndra.  At least that was just throwing the money away, in that blissful Keynesian way.

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    • no, you’d rather subsidize rapists than women’s studies grads.

      Sorry, Did I hit a nerve?

      Maybe that one was a bit below the belt.

      I ain’t a feminist like you maybe think — but you gotta give ’em credit for dreamin’.

      Phillipi, WV. and fuck off about community organizing not making money.

      How much money does GASP save us a year?? It’s probably over a million dollars, easy.

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      • “As someone who teaches humanities in an expensive private liberal arts college, I like to keep abreast of the trends in the job market for my students. This useful chart from the Chronicle of Higher Education takes US Census data and breaks out the median income for graduates depending on their major. As you might expect, some of the tastiest salaries come from the toughest subjects. Petroleum engineering majors earn $120,000. Brown jobs really do rule. Ecology majors on the other hand get a little more than one third of that: $44,000. And remember: that isn’t a starting salary; it’s the median income for all the people in the field up to age 65. Stuffing envelopes for Greenpeace does not often lead to great things.”

        http://blogs.dailymail.com/donsurber/archives/54626

         

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        • Here’s one side note: I happen to know a lot of dudes in the petrochem business, and I know a lot of dudes in the tree-hugger biz, having been one myself.

          Net, the petrochem folk have done more to reduce damage to the environment than the tree-huggers have.  Orders of magnitude more.

          I don’t malign their goals, here.  Just their methodology.  We’re not going to go back to living off of nuts falling from the trees.  If you can’t have a comprehensive and practical plan for agribusiness and energy… mostly energy… you’re fighting battles that might be worth fighting, but you are doing very little for the war.

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