Category Archives: taxes

Oh please, don’t wake me up . . .

Bet you didn’t know this. Neither did I, but it’s right there on Glenn Beck’s own site, The Blaze, the place for dystopian paranoia and apocalyptic terror – plus there are many wonderful things available for purchase!

Glenn Beck on Monday began what he said is “just the beginning” of his work to reveal the background and motivations of Grover Norquist, the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform.

Beck began by playing recent clips of Norquist calling out Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for his efforts to derail Obamacare, noting that while he used to joke about the left’s portrayal of Norquist as a “big power player,” he’s since revised his dismissive opinion in light of the warnings that you “don’t ever take this guy on unless you’re prepared.”

Beck’s show Monday primarily concentrated on Norquist’s alleged connections to Islamists. He invited Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy, and Daniel Greenfield of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, to weigh in.

There’s a David Horowitz Freedom Center? Seriously?

IRS head colluded with the Kenyan, right there in the White House, just forevah! And that’s why we’re doomed.

The latest meme in Perpetual Outrage Land has former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman practically living in the Oval Office. It’s a scandal ya’ see – and a perfect example of how to gin up outrage over the thinnest bit of information.

Bill O’Reilly:  “You must explain under oath what you were doing at the White House on 157 separate occasions.”

The Daily Caller: “IRS’s Shulman had more public White House visits than any Cabinet member.”

Brit Hume tweeeted: “Sooner or later this will have to be answered. What was the ex-IRS chief doing at the White House all those times?” (Ahem, answered by whom Brit? Does FOX News not have any reporters?)

Did. Not. Happen. An actual reporter went and actually reported the charge and it turned out that it Did. Not. Happen.

First, she explains how visitors logs work, what they mean and how they very often only mean that a name is ‘precleared’ for a meeting or event, even if the person never attended. And, she informs us, ‘White House’ usually means either the Eisenhower Executive Office Building or the New Executive Office Building (17 blocks away). And then, doing the ‘reporting’ thing, she look things up and gets into the weeds.

Here’s a taste. This is just 2010 (the other years are at the link); this is the year of the bi-weekly health reform deputies meetings, i.e. regularly scheduled working meetings.

2010

Eisenhower Executive Office Building, recorded as Old Executive Office Building

  • Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the Office for Health Reform
  • Sarah Fenn, staff assistant, working with DeParle
  • Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget
  • Robert Nabors, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget
  • Jeffrey Zients, deputy director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget
  • Margaret Weiss, again
  • Ezekiel Emanuel, special  adviser to the director of the White House Office of Management and  Budget for health policy, detailed from his post at the National  Institutes of Health
  • Michael Hash, again
  • Ariel Levin, special assistant at the Office of Management and Budget. One of her recurring meetings gets the description “THIS IS FOR THE BI-WEEKLY HEALTH REFORM DEPUTIES MEETING.”
  • Alex  Hornbrook

New Executive Office Building

  • Terri Payne, Office of Management and Budget

(actual) White House (but not Oval Office)

  • Jason Furman, again
  • Chelsea Kammerer, White House special assistant to the director of intergovernmental affairs. Shulman signed in to attend a July 22 West Wing bill signing for the “Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act” in the State Room of the White House along with White House staff and at least 81 people from outside the building. You can watch Obama deliver remarks on it in this video; the law created “measures that hold government accountable for responsible use of taxpayer dollars and cut down on waste, fraud and abuse.”
  • Nancy-Ann DeParle, again

I’m not seeing much this morning – perhaps someone inside the right-wing noise machine (so named by Eric Alterman?) read her story and send out a memo to find a new narrative for this week.

Wherein Rush ushers irony to the door . . . yet again

oliver northEveryone  is having their say about the IRS’ Lois Lerner who took the Fifth yesterday before a Congressional committee (just like that conservative icon Oliver North did). Here’s Fat Boy:

You have to be very careful in making judgments about people based on physical appearance, although I’ve gotten really good at it.

I guess we all see what we want to see when we look in the mirror. Anyway, I hear you Rush and I am being careful. I do think it through before I call anyone Fat Boy or “the morbidly-obese, four times married” . . . .  and after thinking it through, I feel I am morally entitled to toss schoolyard insults at you, because that’s what you do for a living. Good for the goose, good for the . . .

East Coast storms and Oklahoma storms: totally not the same thing

coburninhofeFederal assistance to Oklahoma? Duane notes that its two Senators (Inhofe and Coburn) aren’t too sure about that Federal funding stuff in theory. They didn’t want to step in after Sandy and they’re always trying to defund FEMA. But here’s what Inhofe had to say this morning on the teevee:

JANSING: You know there were a number of people along the East Coast who weren’t happy about your vote on Hurricane Sandy . . . you said the request for funding was a “slush fund.” . . .  is there money to help the people here in your home state rebuild?

INHOFE: Well, let’s look at that. That was totally different . . .

Yup. Totally different. I get that.

What Inhofe and Coburn don’t seem to grasp – well,  here, Duane says it best:

Yet despite the efforts of Inhofe and Coburn, the FEMA trucks will show up in Oklahoma throughout today and beyond. Those trucks are representatives of the American people, most of whom live far, far away from Moore.

Let me repeat that: Those trucks are representatives of the American people.

We can, however, take some comfort that both of the esteemed Senators, while not crazy about that food and rescue equipment part, did ask for prayers.

You may know that Duane lives in Joplin MO and two years ago a tornado devastated Joplin; 161 people died. His post a few days later is one I’ve never forgotten and it still touches me. Read it. That’s probably pretty close to what they’re feeling in Moore OK about now. It begins:

Sunday evening, before the onset of the cruel aftershocks that continue to pummel our devastated city with remorseless storms and rescue-impeding rains, my youngest son and I undertook a journey to a destination he—a high school student and baseball player—seemed desperate to see.

He wanted to go to his school.

Read the rest.

Give me a break. It’s not all about you moron.

Today, Americans celebrate the inauguration of our 45th president and 224 years of continuity of government – 224 year of bloodless constitutional transitions.

But not all Americans are happy.

According to Forbes, golfer Phil Mickelson may give up his career because he may have to pay higher taxes.

For starters, courtesy of President Obama’s re-election and the subsequent fiscal cliff negotiations, Mickelson will experience an increase in his top tax rate on ordinary income from 35% to 39.6%, and an increase in his top rate on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends from 15% to 20%. Clearly, when faced with tax hikes of that magnitude, it stops making economic sense for Mickelson to continue to swing a metal stick up to 70 times a day in exchange for the $48 million he earns on an annual basis.

Let’s repeat that last sentence:

Clearly, when faced with tax hikes of that magnitude, it stops making economic sense for Mickelson to continue to swing a metal stick up to 70 times a day in exchange for the $48 million he earns on an annual basis.

Either that is tongue-in-cheek or this is the most spoiled brat in sports.

I hope they’re grateful too . . .

I know I am very grateful that my enlightened government refuses to officially allow elderly and ill to be impoverished.

A factoid: where are the largest percentages of the Mr. Romney’s 47%? You already knew I’m sure. Remember also that those blue states are largely donor states, getting back less than a dollar for every dollar into the kitty and those red states are largely recipient states. Whoops, I meant ‘takers’.

So it makes perfect sense that they mostly voted for the guy who holds them in contempt. And says so.

Where are the 47% from? Bah, you knew all along

The Atlantic sheds some light on the subject (notice that the red states are Red States and the blue states are mostly Blue States). This is a pattern we see often on issues like teenage pregnancy, educational levels, income, health, obesity. It’s not Connecticut that isn’t educating its next generation.

I wonder if it’s true?

If so, this could be the biggest thing this campaign season since Newt Gingrich’s head.  Per Mashable, a techy sorta social network sorta site:

Mitt Romney’s tax returns are reportedly in the hands of a team of hackers who plan on releasing them publicly at the end of the month unless a ransom is paid.

The group allegedly obtained the files from PricewaterhouseCooper’s Tennessee office on Aug. 25, in what was described on PasteBin as a Mission Impossible-like caper:

Romney’s 1040 tax returns were taken from the PWC office 8/25/2012 by gaining access to the third floor via a gentleman working on the 3rd floor of the building. Once on the 3rd floor, the team moved down the stairs to the 2nd floor and setup shop in an empty office room. During the night, suite 260 was entered, and all available 1040 tax forms for Romney were copied. A package was sent to the PWC on suite 260 with a flash drive containing a copy of the 1040 files, plus copies were sent to the Democratic office in the county and copies were sent to the GOP office in the county at the beginning of the week also containing flash drives with copies of Romney’s tax returns before 2010. A scanned signature image for Mitt Romney from the 1040 forms were scanned and included with the packages, taken from earlier 1040 tax forms gathered and stored on the flash drives.

The files are to be released to the public on Sept. 28, according to the PasteBin document.

That was then, this is now. After all, now isn’t then. Or something. Jeez.

This follows nicely on my Wednesday post about Romney’s frequent 360’s. Transparency about one’s financial civic practices are “expected of thee, but not of me”.

Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney has seen pressure mount from both Democrats and Republican pundits to release his tax returns. Romney says he is “simply not enthusiastic” about giving Democrats “hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick through, distort, and lie about.”

(Thousands of pages? Thousands? Really?)

But in 2002, during his run for Governor Romney attacked his opponent Shannon O’BrieThe Romney campaign accused O’Brien, who released her tax returns every year since 1998, of being disingenuous by releasing her but not her husband’s returns, a former lobbyist who had worked with Enron.

Romney spokesman and current top Romney aide Eric Fehnrstrom claimed O’Brien was attempting to hide possibly embarrassing finances from voters.

“Her hands aren’t clean. She can’t claim to be disclosing anything until she discloses the returns of her husband, the Enron lobbyist,” Fehnrstrom said. “Under Shannon O’Brien, the state Pension Board lost millions by buying Enron stock when it was collapsing — what is she hiding?”

Thank you Ann Romney for the confirmation

Last week I said this:

Romney is increasingly sounding like someone who believes that whatever he chooses to share with the electorate ought to be enough for them. Noblesse oblige and all ya’know.

Yesterday Ann Romney said this.

Ann Romney dismissed concerns about her husband’s tax returns Thursday, contending that the two of them have “given all you people need to know.”

. . . “We’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and how we live our life,” she added later.

I don’t think it could be any clearer – we’re little people and we should just be satisfied with what they choose to let us know. It’s really not our business. Just like, as she says, it’s not our business how they live their lives..

You might want to check the Republican platform Ann – it’s all about how your party thinks we should we live our lives. It’s conservative orthodoxy that a morality, apparently a Christian inspired one, must be imposed upon those of us who don’t fit.

Also, I want to know if you guys wear that magic Mormon underwear. Because if you do, isn’t that likereligion requiring men wear a beard and women cover their heads? Isn’t that kind of like Sharia?

My people might do the right thing for the wrong reason

FOX News reports (yeah, I know) that Pelosi has said she might let all the Bush tax cuts expire if the House Republicans don’t agree to the Obama plan. They say that in the Senate, Democrat Patty Murphy has suggested the same thing.

Obama’s Democratic allies in Congress only want to pass that partial, one-year extension. Republicans only want to pass an extension that continues those rates for everyone. Each side is accusing the other of threatening to trigger tax hikes in 2013.

Right now, both parties want to do the wrong thing. So let’s allow the tick-tocking clock to make the decision for us. Let the damn things expire.

I dearly hope this happens. Letting those cuts expire for everyone – even us little guys – is the best way to bring the deficit under control. We can deal with the tax code and the social security cap later, but for now, letting the taxes revert to 2001 levels might be the least painful way to address our debt.

Now, just to be annoying, Let me add that I actually also believe we should be investing right now in infrastructure – borrowing for that is as cheap as it will ever be.

Let the economists explain if that’s contradictory or not. Borrowing cheaper money today and paying off yesterday’s more expensive debt, which continues compounding at a higher rate, seems to be a good idea.

Meanwhile, let the tax cuts expire. Please.

Exactly: “The Roberts Court is born”

And this is why I always thought the Chief Justice would find a way to uphold Obamacare.

 Had Obamacare been voided, it would have inevitably led to charges of aggressive judicial activism.  Roberts peered over the abyss and decided he didn’t want to go there.

Roberts’ decision was consistent with his confirmation hearings pledge to respect the co-equal branches of government, push for consensus, and reach narrow rulings designed to build broad coalitions on the Court. He promised to respect precedent. His jurisprudence, he said, would be marked by “modesty and humility” and protection of the precious institutional legitimacy of the Court.

Today, the institutional legitimacy of the Court was buttressed. President Obama wasn’t the only winner at the Supreme Court today. So was the Supreme Court itself.

So this case was the one where he finally decided to adhere to those oft stated principles, which he’s previously ignored. But he has also expressed the hope that he could loosen the partisan divide on the Court, reduce the number of 5-4  votes, and has said he would like more unanimous decisions.

Voyager: I am fierce proud my tax dollars helped this happen!

Voyager at Jupiter

Voyager I, launched 35 years ago, is now approaching the edge of our Solar System and will soon head out toward the other star systems that make up our galaxy, what we have fondly called the Milky Way. And it’s still transmitting data and adding to our store of knowledge like nothing else ever launched. (I’d say that its success strengthens the case for unmanned missions.)

There’s a link-rich story, plus videos and graphics at Talking Point Memo today.

We should all be proud, but also a bit sad that this is what we used to do.

NASA’s JPL has a site that follows the progress of [both] Voyagers in real time. It’s here.

I am so tired of Republicans getting away with this shit . . .

Since he was only a “chief economic policy adviser” to Reagan, what Bruce Bartlett says probably doesn’t count. In fact, these days that credential makes him suspect; he might be a Muslim-Kenyan liberal. Just like David Stockman. And David Frum*. You know, yesterday’s conservatives.

Republicans assert that Barack Obama assumed sole responsibility for the budget on Jan. 20, 2009. From that date, all increases in the debt or deficit are his responsibility and no one else’s, they say. This is, of course, nonsense – and the American people know it.

. . . Contrary to Republican assertions, there were no additional revenues from legislated tax increases.

. . . On the spending side, legislated increases during the Bush administration added $2.4 trillion to deficits and the debt through 2008.

The projected surplus when George Bush took over from The Big Dog:

was primarily the result of two factors. . . first, a big tax increase in 1993 that every Republican in Congress voted against, saying that it would tank the economy. This belief was wrong. The economy boomed in 1994, growing 4.1 percent that year and strongly throughout the Clinton administration . . .

During the 2000 campaign, Mr. Bush warned that budget surpluses were dangerous because Congress might spend them, even though Paygo rules prevented this from happening. . . .[he] reiterated this point and [said] . . .  future surpluses were likely to be even larger than projected due principally to anticipated strong revenue growth.

The 2001 tax cut did nothing to stimulate the economy, yet Republicans pushed for additional tax cuts in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2008. The economy continued to languish even as the Treasury hemorrhaged revenue, which fell to 17.5 percent of the gross domestic product in 2008 from 20.6 percent in 2000. Republicans abolished Paygo in 2002, and spending rose to 20.7 percent of G.D.P. in 2008 from 18.2 percent in 2001.

. . . Putting all the numbers in the C.B.O. report together, we see that continuation of tax and budget policies and economic conditions in place at the end of the Clinton administration would have led to a cumulative budget surplus of $5.6 trillion through 2011 enough to pay off the $5.6 trillion national debt at the end of 2000.

. . . Republicans would have us believe that somehow we could have avoided the recession and balanced the budget in 2009 if only they had been in charge. This would be a neat trick considering that the recession began in December 2007.

. . .  they continually imply that one of the least popular spending increases of recent years, the Troubled Asset Relief Program [TARP], was an Obama administration program, when in fact it was a Bush administration initiative proposed by the Treasury Department that was signed into law by Mr. Bush on Oct. 3, 2008.

Lastly, Republicans continue to insist that tax cuts are highly stimulative, often saying that they add nothing to the debt, when this is obviously ridiculous.

Like I said though, Bartlett’s probably a commie by now, so no one should pay attention to him.

David Frum in 2012: Imagine, if you will, someone who read only the Wall Street Journal editorial page between 2000 and 2011, and someone in the same period who read only the collected columns of Paul Krugman. Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of the current economic crisis? The answer, I think, should give us pause.

Donald Trump: pretend conserative, genuine liberal but opportunism always comes first

(Narcissist that I am), I’ve been perusing old posts here at Whatever Works (actually, I am trying – without much success – to find something).

My browsing brought me back to this one. It’s from last April when Donald Trump was flirting with being the most-powerful-man-in-the-whole-widest-world, while simultaneously planning his epic expose to prove Obama’s really a secret KENYAN!

But he wasn’t always on Sean Hannity’s ‘A’ List. Here’s the pre-birther Donald:

“By imposing a one-time 14.25 percent net-worth tax on the richest individuals and trusts, we can put America on sound financial footing for the next century.”Writing in his book, The America We Deserve, January 2000

“I’ve been around for a long time. And it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans.” –Interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, March 2004

Bush is probably the worst president in the history of the United States.”Interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, March 2007

“I’m totally pro-choice.”Interview with Fox News Sunday, October 1999

“I want to see the abortion issue removed from politics. I believe it is a personal decision that should be left to the women and their doctors.”Remarks to reporters, December 1999

“I’m very liberal when it comes to health care. I believe in universal health care.”Interview with CNN’s Larry King, October 1999.

“The Canadian plan also helps Canadians live longer and healthier than Americans… We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan.”Writing in his book, The America We Deserve, January 2000

While we contemplate stimulus vs austerity . . .

. . . herwith a tweet from Robert Reich, well known Clinton-era Commie (h/t UTMB, here); I will now add him to my Twitter feed.

But in the House they “ARE the 9%!”

An overwhelming majority of Americans approved of the overall message in President Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, according to a CBS News poll of speech watchers.

According to the poll, which was conducted online by Knowledge Networks immediately after the president’s address, 91 percent of those who watched the speech approved of the proposals Mr. Obama put forth during his remarks. Only nine percent disapproved.

Last year, 83 percent of viewers approved of Mr. Obama’s State of the Union remarks.

How is this healthy for a nation? It isn’t. It’s destructive.

We need to fix this or it’ll ruin us.

WASHINGTON — The top 1 percent of earners more than doubled their share of the nation’s income over the last three decades, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday . . .

In this report, the budget office found that from 1979 to 2007, average inflation-adjusted after-tax income grew by 275 percent for the 1 percent of the population with the highest income. For others in the top 20 percent of the population, average real after-tax household income grew by 65 percent.

By contrast, the budget office said, for the poorest fifth of the population, average real after-tax household income rose 18 percent.

And for the three-fifths of people in the middle of the income scale, the growth in such household income was just under 40 percent.

You gotta have a lot of prisoners to save money this way

A special state indeed. Texas is going to cut costs in its prison system by:

  • Texas ended the decades-old practice of serving last meals to inmates about to be executed after one man ordered an elaborate feast of hamburgers, pizza and chicken-fried steaks that he did not eat. (Well, that alone must have saved hundreds of dollars!)
  • Most states serve their inmates milk in cartons, but Texas prison officials said switching to powdered milk would save them an estimated $3.5 million annually.
  • Thousands of other inmates in the Texas prison system have been eating fewer meals since April after officials stopped serving lunch on the weekends in some prisons as a way to cut food-service costs.

In the US, two million people are in state prisons alone. In 2010, 225,000 of them were in Texas, or 1 in 100 residents. They built 174 new state prisons between 1979 and 2000, a 706% increase. (Texas has cut its prisoner growth rate in the last few years, but still holds the lead.)

Wonder how many of those prisons are private for-profit?

Entitlement my poptart . . . we paid for it!

Stipulated: The average American worker contributed to their Social Security and their employer did as well; that contribution totaled 15% of  income before taxes.

These figures below reflect the 49 years worked by the man who made these calculations. Punch in your own numbers.

  • If you averaged $30K/year over your working life, the 15% contribution is $4500 a year.
  • Over 49 years, that adds up to nearly $220,500 total cash contribution.
  • If you calculate the future value of $4,500 per year  at a simple 5%, after 49 years of working you’d have $892,919.98.
  • If you took out only 3% per year, you’d receive $26,787.60 per year and it would last better than 30 years.

(h/t friend Ed)

Americans, bah! It’s not what the oligarchy wants

From Bloomberg:

More than two-thirds of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, say wealthier people should pay more in taxes to bring down the budget deficit, and even larger numbers think Medicare and Social Security benefits should be left alone. . . .

More than 8 out of 10 Americans say the middle class will have to make financial sacrifices to cut the federal deficit even as the public just as strongly opposes higher taxes on middle-income families, according to a Bloomberg-Washington Post national poll conducted Oct. 6-9.

“While Americans see sacrifice as inevitable for the middle-class, the only sacrifice to win majority support is a tax on those too wealthy to be considered middle-class,” says J. Ann Selzer, president of Des Moines, Iowa-based Selzer & Co., which consults with Bloomberg News on polls.

By the way, tonight’s Republican debate will be broadcast only on Bloomberg.

Mr. Warren Reagan, class warrior

President Ronald Reagan in 1985, speaking in Atlanta:

We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share. In theory, some of those loopholes were understandable, but in practice they sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying ten percent of his salary, and that’s crazy. […] Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver or less?

Here’s the video:

via Think Progress

Elizabeth Warren: pay it forward. Duh.

Here’s the woman making sense, as only she can. Dear Elvis, I wish I could vote for her. Her election is not a given, even in Massachusetts, but at a time when it’s all about the economy, there’s no one out there with her credentials. And there’s no one out there with her skill at talking to those problems in an uncomplicated and direct way. Powerful combination.

She has another unique tool to use: after years of testifying before Congress, often to very hostile questions, Warren is remarkably adept at defending her positions. That will help. The media will be hard pressed to find her stumbling or saying dumb things.  Here’s the video. I picked up the transcript  here.

I hear all this, you know, “Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.”—No! There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.

You built a factory out there—good for you! But I want to be clear.

  • You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.
  • You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.
  • You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.
  • You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize
    everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.

Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or [had] great idea—God bless. Keep a big hunk of it.

But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

Argue me that.

Sunday funnies? Eh.

Well, apart from hearing David Gregory refer to Irene as “this monstrous storm” (while showing video of people actually outside in the rain) 24 hours after it was downgraded, I did find this:

Plus Bobblespeak will be up shortly (I hope). Meanwhile, want to weep? Sorry, I know it’s not funny, but neither is anything much right now. (same source as above)

They seem to have confused the U.S. Constitution with the Articles of Confederation

Don’t tell the Tea Party caucus who, along with Grover Norquist and a cabal (yes, cabal) of soulless financiers who crave power and hate taxes, that when they dream of a balanced budget and  call for a return to our ‘founding principles’, they only reveal ignorance of American history. In Salon, William Hogeland points out that The Founding Fathers would have hated the debt ceiling.

The Constitution came about precisely to enable a newly large government — a national one — to tax all Americans for the specific purpose of funding a large public debt. Neither Alexander Hamilton nor his mentor the financier Robert Morris made any bones about that purpose; James Madison was among their closest allies; and Edmund Randolph of Virginia opened the Constitutional Convention by charging the delegates to redress the country’s failure to fund — not pay off, fund — the public debt, by creating a national government.

Beginning during the War of Independence, and continuing throughout the 1780s, American nationalists committed themselves to a small class of upscale high financiers (largely identical with the American nationalists), who had bought bonds from the confederation Congress in hopes of earning regular, tax-free, 6 percent interest payments — not in the Congress’s crashing paper currency but in hard, cold metal or its equivalent, stable bills of exchange. Morris, Hamilton, Madison and others believed that swelling the debt to immense proportions would make a coherent nation out of 13 squabbling states and make that nation a player on the world economic stage. Their plan to do so depended partly on making military-officer pay a pension, thus turning the entire officer class into public bondholders — and giving Congress new power to tax all Americans to support that debt.

But they are certain of their righteousness (as defined by right-wing Christian Evangelicals and FOX News) and will fight on, financed by those whose allegiance is not to any nation, much less our own.

From my paper this morning: budget bedlam?

Now you see it, now you don't!

A letter to the editor today from an economist acquaintance points out something that’s ignored in the national dialogue (can we call the dueling punditocracy a dialogue?).

A balanced budget brings a whole new set of problems. (The full letter is here.)

An amendment to the U.S. Constitution, requiring an annually balanced federal budget, will destabilize the U.S. economy. . .

[if the] economy moves into recession, the budget will automatically move into a deficit, because income-tax collections will fall and unemployment compensation payments will rise. To bring the budget back into balance, Congress would have to increase taxes and/or cut spending.

. . . [if the] economy is expands rapidly, the budget will automatically move to a surplus, because income-tax collections will rise faster than GDP and spending on unemployment programs will fall. To bring the budget back into balance, Congress would have to increase spending and/or cut taxes.

Try planning in an environment where national priorities change every 12 months. But the GOP base would be thrilled and that’s the whole point, isn’t it.

Sure, true things are true but . . .

I posted a few days ago about the singularly un-Christian tweet from’ America’s pastor’ Rick Warren, in which he transmitted yet again that stupid meme that 50% of Americans pay NO taxes!!  It is of course false on it’s face, since there is no way to avoid taxes.  What is true is that 50% of Americans pay no Federal Income taxes.

I just visited a site new to me, and one I look forward to visiting again, where Donald Marron takes a moment to tell us who those 50% are, and the reasons why they pay no federal income taxes..

The number one reason should come as no surprise. It’s because they have low incomes. As my colleague Bob Williams notes:

“A couple with two children earning less than $26,400 . . . their $11,600 standard deduction and four exemptions of $3,700 each reduce their taxable income to zero.”

Low incomes (or, if you prefer, the standard deduction and personal exemptions) account for fully half of the people who pay no federal income tax.

The second reason is that for many senior citizens, Social Security benefits are exempt from federal income taxes. That accounts for about 22% of the people who pay no federal income tax.

The third reason is that America uses the tax code to provide benefits to low-income families, particularly those with children. Taken together, the earned income tax credit, the child credit, and the childcare credit account for about 15% of the people who pay no federal income tax.

Taken together, those three factors — incomes that fall below the standard deduction and personal exemptions; the exemption for most Social Security benefits; and tax benefits aimed at low-income families and children — account for almost 90% of the Americans who pay no federal income tax.

Of course, they’re also probably lefty pinko lazy gay communist liberals.  Or so suggests ‘Pastor’ Warren.

 

The poor: WWJD?

Megapastor and Christian spokesman for US of A Christians, Rick Warren, has spoken with his lord and has the answer.

So sayeth the Lord

Let’s go get ’em! Lazy scum.

Can’t we all just get along?

I’m losing faith in the ‘Obama plays a long game’ theory. (h/t mac who brought this up today )

Gotta admit though, the Pentagon is about to deep-six DADT and that didn’t happen by executive order. Obama suffered the slings and arrows that descended on him when he didn’t just do it on January 21, 2009. He allowed the process to work until the support was broader. I suppose that’s that is playing  a long game.

Anyway, Tom Tomorrow nails it –  this is how Democrats see things today – click to enlarge.

Earth to D.C., earth to D.C., earth to .. .

Bruce Bartlett:

It appears that Republicans have walked away from a historic opportunity to reduce the deficit because of their obsessive insistence that not one penny come from higher revenues. Recent polls, however, suggest that the American people are not so obstinate and are more than willing to accept some increase in taxes to reduce the deficit. There is a high degree of consistency in every poll I could find on this topic.
His supporting graphic is not transferable, so you’ll have to go there to see it. He lists 11 polls, mostly from the last three months. On average, 65% of the people said we need to address deficit with a mix of taxes and cuts. An average of 29% said spending cuts alone.
 
Still doing the people’s business alright.