The arithmetic shows:
- people who earn under $35K would pay no tax
- people who earn between $35K and $150K would pay more tax than they do now
- people who earn over $150K would pay less tax than they do now
A national sales (consumption) tax would penalize the elderly because they already paid taxes when they were young and earning and saving; a new consumption tax would re-tax their money as they spend it.
The "war on terror" and the neoimperial project in the Maiddle East have distorted our vision of the world. They magnify out of all proportion what should at worst be minor threats to our national security and ignore much larger developments such as the extraordinary economic rise of China and India, which are having a much more profound effect on the American way of life. The Republicans want to extend Bush's policies into a generational war against Islamic extremism, which they see as a new totalitarian threat. Progressives find themselves with a double challenge: on one hand, we must counter the many dangerous assumptions that shape the debate on Iraq, Iran, and Islamic extremism by proposing saner policies. On the other hand, we must enlarge the agenda beyond these issues and offer a vision of America's role in the world that would truly break with the failed policies of the Bush administration.
When Republicans talk about the Islamic threat, they do not mean only Al Qaeda. They also mean religious-based popular movements like Hezbollah as well as the clerical leadership of Iran. It is here that the Republican narrative turns from the absurd to the tragic, greatly expanding the number of America's enemies and ignoring the fact that Iran and its Shiite allies are bitterly opposed to Al Qaeda and could be useful partners in the fight to eliminate extremism. Whether Republicans conflate the two out of ignorance or because they believe that Islamic radicalism of any stripe poses a threat to US interests, or merely bacause they want to play on the public's fears, it makes for bad policy, as the Bush administration's failed middle East strategy demonstrates. An effective policy would instead draw for inspiration upon the Rooseveltian vision that emerged in the latter days of World War II. That entailed working to preserve peace by shaing power in international institutions; the promotion of the universality of human rights and self-determination; and the spread of middle-class prosperity through Keynesian economics and the managed expansion of global commerce; and the newer issue of global climate change and stewardship of the planet's ecology.
Some argue that the US needs to respond with its own geopolitical strategy to maintain control of the world's oil and strategic commodity markets by reinforcing iyts military position in the Gulf and expanding it to parts of Africa. A better approach would be for the US to reduce the importance of these resouces by helping to lead a worldwide effort, including cooperative ventures with China, aimed at harnessing the resource efficiency revolution and developing clean-energy alternatives. Together with championing new arms control measures to prevent the further expansion of China's naval and space deployments, this would make more sense.