Friday, May 14, 2010


If you've just opened a used-car dealership, you don't put the ugliest, rustiest junkers at prime eye level, do you? Or if you're starting up a rival to Netflix, you don't advertise huge discounts on rentals of Ishtar and Gigli, right?

Well, the online Washington Post has a recently revamped PostPolitics section, and here's how it was trying to sell the section on the paper's front page when I woke up this morning:

That was the article the Post chose to tease -- an article (by Perry Bacon Jr.) on "innovative" right-wing proposals. The problem is, the three "innovative" proposals, as described in the article are tired, pathetic, politically infeasible, or some combination of the three:

Billboards advertising the importance of marriage. Shifting coverage of the elderly from Medicare to private insurance companies. Big tax cuts specifically for parents.

Medicare privatization is "innovative"? Haven't right-wingers been talking about this (and Social Security privatization) for years, to a chorus of boos from pretty much everyone in the country who's never been to a Georgetown cocktail party, except the occasional teabagger? And raising the child credit from $1,000 to $4,000? How different is that from the White House proposal to double the child care tax credit? Oh, but this one is clearly paid for, we're told ... because it raises the income tax rate of some poor and middle class taxpayers!

Robert Stein, a conservative economist who served as deputy assistant secretary for macroeconomic analysis in George W. Bush's administration, ... would replace the current system with a $4,000 per child tax credit. That parental tax credit would be funded in part through Stein's other big idea: Simplify the personal income tax to two brackets one that taxes 15 percent of income and the other 35 percent. He estimates that few people now in the 10 percent bracket would pay more if they move to 15 percent, because of the child exemption.

That's a huge leap, Bob. Not everyone has kids.

But he acknowledges that some people would be bumped up to the 35 percent tax rate, mainly upper-middle-class taxpayers who either didn't raise children or whose children have already left home.

Oh. Oh well, besides that...

But my favorite is the marriage campaign -- which would rely on precisely the kind of paternal-government propaganda the teabaggers despise when it comes (or hallucinate that it's coming) from the Obama administration:

...Bradford Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, argues that it is important to highlight the economic benefits of marriage....

Wilcox says churches, the entertainment industry and other cultural institutions would have to embrace this view of marriage, not just the government. He proposes federal funding for public-service announcements and other social marketing to promote marriage, modeled on anti-smoking campaigns.

Ah, that's what I love about conservatives: their unswerving commitment to smaller government. And hey, maybe Bristol Palin can first PSA.

This is the article the Post thought would best sell its new section to people who woke up around seven Eastern time this morning. Weep for the old-line media.

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