America Speaks National Town Hall meeting results to be presented to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Wednesday June 30.

Live on white house web TV the commission’s June 30 9:30 EDT meeting. America Speaks National Town Hall meeting results to be presented to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Wednesday June 30.

You might not like that increase in payroll taxes, the extension of the Bush Tax cuts for higher brackets or the cleaning of the tax code with to be determined benefits.

The feel good from talking to fellow Americans has worn down now, and I don’t share the Pollyanna euphoria of the results such as 68 percent opted for an added 5 percent tax for those with over 1 million a year, or that single payer was suggested as an option, ( but wasn’t opted or results reported on ). The group think and participation high that America Speaks was banking on not only biased results but lasted a few more hours as various progressive wobblies and Libertarian Tea Baggers were posting about their successes.

Going in I did not want to empower or validate the Town Hall or the Commission, and now feel even more strongly about that. Perhaps it is a mistake to even offer a critique but here goes.

I wish more experienced behavioral psychologists, survey makers, and economists would comment on the meeting exercise and the work of the Commission. Guess they have either day jobs or more sense.

The fact that as many people who chose for increasing taxes 5 percent on incomes over a million dollars chose to increase payroll taxes 1 or 2 percent from a deficit neutral program is a clue. America Speaks was executing to get that result.

Used to be certainty was at a premium, today, like in securities trading, opacity is at a premium, and while it was nice to get preliminary results on paper, they have not been posted on the web.

I am concerned about two of the many survey manipulations. First is that the increasing Social Security taxes was in a separate category than tax changes. It should not have been on the options but it was and it’s separate location is an example of the manipulation.

Secondly there was an exclusive OR of either increasing taxes progressively or "reforming" the tax code per a January 2008 OMB report with using 70,80 or 90 percent of the savings to reduce taxes.

Between the electronic polling, the polling software, the attendees etc, this instruction was only partially executed. Thus the 68 percent for the millionaire tax and the should have been exclusive 50? percent for throwing the tax code out letting K-street lower tax rates. ( My notes from the out of focus screens at the meeting had that at only 5,9,26 percent for throwing out the tax code and 60 for no change, and the printed copy we got had 5,9,36 percent for and 50 percent for no change)

America Speaks presented a Hobson’s dilemna. Progressive taxation or "tax simplification".

p.s.

Commentators and attendees have talked about the controlled agenda, putting the almost deficit neutral Social Security program as an option to help the general deficit, and that the budget elephant in the room, health care only had medicare/medicaid cuts also known as reduced spending as options.
The center for economic and policy research made a critique and was doing exit polling at the meeting

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