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Week In The News: Syria, Fiscal Cliff, Egypt

The White House threatens to go over the fiscal cliff. Tough chemical warfare warnings for Syria. Big bank layoffs. A royal baby bump. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

In this Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 photo, residents walk past damaged buildings due to heavy fighting between Free Syrian Army fighters and government forces in Aleppo, Syria.  (AP)

In this Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 photo, residents walk past damaged buildings due to heavy fighting between Free Syrian Army fighters and government forces in Aleppo, Syria. (AP)

Fiscal cliff talk all over this week, and a growing sense that we may just go over it.  Or not.  And that either way there’s another monster right on the other side – the debt ceiling. The fiscal chasm.  Heaven help us.

In Washington, Tea Party titan Jim DeMint announces he will leave the US Senate.  Will take his megaphone to a big think tank.  In the Middle East, uproar in Egypt, warnings to Syria on chemical weapons, and Israel announces more settlements.  In Michigan, unions up in arms.

This hour, On Point:  Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Susan Glasser, editor in chief of Foreign Policy magazine.

Nancy Cordes, congressional correspondent, CBS News.

Jack BeattyOn Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

al Jazeera “At least five tanks were deployed outside the Egyptian presidential palace in a street where supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi had been clashing into the early hours of the morning, witnesses said. The state news agency said the military deployment on Thursday around the palace was to “secure” the building. Nine armoured troop carriers were also reported on the street outside the palace.”

Washington Post “DeMint’s departure comes during a critical moment for the conservative movement and leaves uncertainty among its ranks in the Senate. After the tea party movement left a deep impact on the 2010 midterm elections, its influence faded in 2012. Meanwhile, the debate over the “fiscal cliff” is raging in Congress, with Democrats pressing Republicans to join them in supporting tax increases for the wealthy, a proposal conservatives have decried.”

New York Times “A new round of diplomacy on the conflict in Syria will begin on Thursday afternoon when Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations special envoy, hosts an unusual three-way meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov.”

Video

Here is Alan Simpson doing “Gangnam Style.” Really.

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  • Mike_Card

    DeMint knew months ago.  His big payoff came from waiting till after the election so another teabagger could be appointed to serve out his term.

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    One item that has been missed in all of the fiscal cliff discussion and who gets what tax cuts is the fact that the 2% payroll tax cut that has been in place as part of the Bush tax cuts is really a reduction in payments to social security, not income taxes.  So as a discussion concerning the long term viability of social security takes place, it is overlooked that the problem is being exacerbated by the fact that a reduction in payments to the social security trust fund have been occurring.  A more appropriate tax cut, assuming that it could be funded (which it can’t since we already run a $1+trillion annual deficit and have over $16 trillion in accumulated debt), would have been a reduction in income tax rates.  I am not arguing for or against a tax cut.  I am simply pointing out taking it out of social security is yet another example of congress kicking the can down the road.  When social security runs out of money sooner than it would have had the payroll tax reduction not been put into place, most people will forget that it was in part due to the payroll tax reduction that has been in place for the past several years.

    • sickofthechit

      I completely agree about the hypocrisy of reducing Payroll Taxes and then turn around and attack Social Security, but it must also be noted that Social Security is not Contributing to the Deficit since it is funded by a separate tax.  I believe it also holds a lot of our U.S. Debt doesn’t it from when we borrowed Soc. Sec. Trust Funds to “balance the Deficit?/Debt??

      An interesting side note is that one of the ways Indiana Governor McDaniels “balanced” his budget during the last several years when the Payroll Tax was reduced was by increasing his state’s income tax by 2%.  Real “Prince” that one.
      Charles A. Bowsher

      • Fiscally_Responsible

        Your statement about Social Security not contributing to the deficit is completely correct and reveals yet another aspect of Congress that shows how irresponsible they are.  Instead of keeping the social security trust funds and annual picture isolated as they should, they report the “net deficit” which is lower than it would be since social security has been running a surplus up to this point in time (building up funds for when the baby boomers retire).  And then congress has raided the trust fund and stuffed it full of I.O.U.s. to partially offset the federal deficit.  The correct way to report it would be to report the deficit excluding any social security surplus, and then to keep their cotton-picking hands off of it and let it alone.  This way, they would have to face and fund the deficit generated by federal operations cleanly and not be able to hide behind the social security surplus.  But that is too much to ask.  And the resulting deficit and financial picture would be more terrifying than the public can handle.   

        • Ellen Dibble

          I just figured out that the middle class tax cut that Obama wants continued IS the Social Security tax.  It’s the FICA tax that was reduced from 15 point something percent to 13 point something, for a couple of years.  So it seems that Social Security is right exactly on the line when it comes to negotiations.  If that is the money we are withholding from the federal government and have been under Obama, then it’s pretty amazing if Social Security is nonetheless holding its own. 
              Surely I’m mistaken about something, which is nothing new.  But given the way Social Security trust fund has been “raided and stuffed full of IOUs,” as you put it, it certainly muddies the matter.  You could argue about the validity of weakening Social Security by cutting its intake without talking about weakening the national fiscal picture and further perpetrating the national debt.

          • Don_B1

            You are definitely mistaken, but what a weird jumble of wild false rumors!

            The Greenspan Commission, under Ronald Reagan’s administration, recognized that the Baby Boom generation was going to be a jump in the number of retirees relative to the number of workers, so that Social Security would be stressed in its then current “pay as you go” mode.

            So in 1983 the Social Security program was changed to incorporate a larger Trust Fund so that the “Boomers” would pay for their retirement by increased contributions through increased F.I.C.A. taxes.

            The question has always been where to place the money collected and held by the government. Placing the money in stocks and bonds was immediately rejected by Republicans, fearful of the “bullying” power the government would have if it owned stock in private companies.

            So the money was used to buy debt of the United States, and certificates just like what you get when you buy Treasury bonds, etc., are issued and held by the Social Security Trust Fund.

            ———-

            Now, in order to direct stimulus money to the 99% a bill was passed to cut the amount of the F.I.C.A. tax collected by 2%, but making up the lost revenue to the Social Security Trust Fund from the government’s general fund. Thus there is NO LOSS to the Trust Fund from this action.

            But a potentially bad precedent has been set in the use of the “payroll tax” for other than the security of seniors. And ending the cut in the payroll deduction could prove to be difficult.

        • Steve__T

           Don’t get me started on SS.

  • Ed75

    This week it was reported that in exchange for so much support, President Obama promised President Clinton that he would have say in who became the head of the DNC. And that President Obama would support Hilary in 2016.

    President Clinton forwarded five names for the DNC to President Obama. These names were not considered or vetted at all. President Clinton was furious.

    He called the White House and couldn’t get through, and didn’t take the call when Axelrod called back. When he finally spoke to President Obama, he asked if the president was going to support Hilary in 2016. President Obama said that it was too early to say.

    People want to like and vote for President Obama, but they don’t realize what kind of person he is. No wonder he supports all kinds of seriously immoral policies.

    • anamaria23

      Could you kindly source the information ou have posted.

      • Ed75

        Yes, it’s surprising that this information was reported. It comes from Lou Dobbs, Wednesday night interview with a political commentator whose name I can’t remember, who wrote a book about the Clintons.

        • J__o__h__n

          What a reliable source!

        • keltcrusader

          Lou Dobbs – you are kidding right? hahahahahaha……pathetic

          • 1Brett1

            We-he-he-ell, Dobbs PLUS some political commentator whose name he can’t remember, who wrote a book about the Clintons!!!

          • keltcrusader

            yes, quite reliable sources all! teehee

        • 1Brett1

          A-L-L R-I-G-H-T-Y T-H-E-N!

          • Gregg Smith

            Imitation is the highest form of flattery.

    • margbi

       Where are you getting all this information?

      • John_in_Amherst

        I’m sure Obama keeps all his wing nut detractors fully informed while everyone else is in the dark.  Just what a devious evildoer would do….

    • anamaria23

      I saw a picture of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama out golfing together last week.

      • Ray in VT

        Don’t get ‘em going on Obama playing golf.  It’s the absolute worst thing that any President has ever done.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Sorry, I missed that. Too busy “watching this drive” and “clearin’ brush”.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Stick to the “evils of abortion and teh gays” crap. You are less far-fetched on that subject.

  • Ed75

    And it’s only been a month since the election, and we’re seeing natural disasters and war in many areas. A mistake.

    • Ray in VT

      It’s a good thing that there have never been wars or natural disasters when presumably more godly candidates, in the eyes of some, won an election.  It would be a mistake to attribute such actions to divine displeasure.

      • Ed75

        You’re right, it’s not so much that this one person has these policies (supports abortion, embryonic stem cell research, restriction of religious liberty, same sex marriage, and euthanasia eventually), but that we as a society have elected him knowing this, meaning that our society as a whole has decided to follow these policies.

        • Ray in VT

          I don’t see any problem with most of what you have listed, quite frankly.

          It’s not the church’s or the government’s business sticking its nose in my family’s reproductive choices.

          I don’t think that embryos should be created in order to be destroyed, but if we are talking about a few cells frozen in a tube, if the couple who created those cells want to donate them in order to further advance science and push towards curing certain diseases, then I’m fine with that.

          I assume that you’re referring to the healthcare contraceptive issue.  Again, I don’t think that that is a great imposition.  Many states do it, and I’m willing to let it play out and see how the courts rule in terms of how that is in line with historical precedent.  If it gets struck down, then I’m basically fine with that.

          Two dudes or two ladies getting married doesn’t hurt you, me, or anyone else.  Just get over it.  Again, it’s not your business. 

          Euthanasia?  If people are terminally ill and they are suffering, I think that there should be an out if they are capable of making that decision for themselves.  Just because we can prolong a life doesn’t mean that we should.  No one’s talking about tossing old people into volcanoes or exposing them to the cold.

          I’m far more concerned with bigotry, poverty, child abuse, neglect, drug abuse and a host of other things which I think have a much more negative affect on our society than the things that you have listed.  I am quite happy to live in the least religious state in the nation, where people don’t feel the need, by and large, to tell me how much Jesus loves them or hates me on a constant basis.  This has always been a religiously diverse nation, based upon a believing people and a non-believing government structure.

          People doing bad things and people being fine with it is a concern, but I just don’t think that the things that are high on your list really harm much of anyone, and if they do, then I don’t think that it’s nearly as much as you think.

          • Ed75

            Well, we disagree.

          • Ray in VT

            We certainly do, but the best part about it is that we live in a society where neither of us will get expelled, stoned, burned or shot for doing so.

          • 1Brett1

            Yeah, but think how happy Ed would be if we did have such punishments for such nonreligious thinking?!  

          • Ray in VT

            I would hope that he wouldn’t, although there are certainly many in this world who do hold such a view.  I think that we’ve probably got relatively few of them here in the States, but I’m sure that you could find a few, just like how one of my college friends had an old lady admit to her that she thought that slavery was a good idea.  There’s always a few nuts who will support just about anything.

          • John_in_Amherst

            unless Ed has his way…

        • Ray in VT

          Also, I don’t think that anyone’s personal choices here in America regarding abortion or gay marriage are likely to fuel violence in the Middle East any more than they are likely to cause typhoons in the Pacific.

        • J__o__h__n

          So god punished the Japanese?  Isn’t it fair to at least smite people who believe in him?

          • Ray in VT

            I don’t know.  The God of the Old Testament is pretty harsh, and a lot of what I hear of out many American Christians is pretty fire and brimstone sort of stuff.  I’d like to hear them talking more about how Jesus loves than how God hates.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Eh, that’s the thing about believing in one (or one series of a) god: No matter the believer’s personal failings, that person can rest assured that someone else will earn a worse punishment because someone else is a lesser person by being a non-believer.

    • jefe68

      I guess God was on vacation when GW Bush was president.

      • J__o__h__n

        Why not? Bush was.

    • 1Brett1

      Well, we’re just getting closer to the harmonic convergence on Dec. 21st! 

    • J__o__h__n

      Why are you giving Mitt the power to prevent earthquakes?  Have you forsaken the Pope and become a Mormon?

      • hypocracy1

        The man wears magic under-roos..  magic

    • Ellen Dibble

      See, when children are very little, they need to learn that coincidences are indications of God, without which we would be nothing.  If a car manages to miss you as it swerves out of control while you’re crossing the street, clearly that is the hand of God.  Ditto if it manages to crush you to a pulp.  Hand of God.  It’s a way of bringing religion down to earth, making it human.  And if a child wants to shed that understanding, that child pretty much has to shed the authority of its mother, and maybe its father, and maybe the teachers and general cultural ethos.  So.  It’s like blood flow; it keeps things intact and functioning.  Right?

      • Ellen Dibble

        By the way, I do credit God when I get an unexpected extra day or so on a deadline, or certain epiphanies seem totally to come from an Uber-Awareness, a kind of connectedness, both human and transcendent, of nature and nurture both, that can give me a chill up the spine, a kind of confirmation that something amazing took place.  I don’t discount that.  I just don’t know.  A little humility goes a long way.  I cannot fathom the mindset that says because of my formal religion, because of basically how I was raised, what my culture uses to explain the World, that validates this or that, me or you.  It’s kind of private, when something, very rarely, seems straight out of the cosmos.  Humbling.  Not an issue of pride.

    • John_in_Amherst

      it might be time to take your meds now…

  • StilllHere

    Simpson is awesome.

    Here’s another Senator doing a credible job for America, if only we could cut through the MSM’s misinformation filters:  

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=704a64c3-c4b6-0747-65d9-b2d6e8ebe36f

  • sickofthechit

    President Obama should not budge on allowing the Temporary bush tax cuts to expire if the Repugnicans (Politicians who are Republican in name only) are unwilling to accept the full 4.6% increase on the top 2% of earners.  It’s the one promise of his Campaign that if he keeps it will set the whole tone for his next term and his Presidential legacy.  Please don’t blink any more Mr. President, pretty please?

    How is it that he doesn’t get that his party won three for three in the most recent election is beyond me. He has control of the table and should act accordingly. He won the Presidency, Dems increased seats in the House and the Senate, that’s three for three! cab
    Charles A. Bowsher

    • Gregg Smith

      President Obama used to say 1% until he started “compromising”. It the cuts expire it means a hike for everyone not just the top.

      Why on earth won’t Harry Reid hold a vote on Obama’s proposal? Why?

      • StilllHere

        The Cliff seems like the best, perhaps only, opportunity we have to cut spending.  

        The UK instituted a millionaires tax and guess what?  They got fewer millionaires, like 50% fewer.  Reminding us again that if you want less of something, tax it.

        • Ellen Dibble

          This smacks of data manipulation.  If I were a millionaire, defined as acquiring a million dollars per annum, as shown on tax returns, and such a tax were put in place, I would instruct my accountant not to take any capital gains until that tax had been rescinded, or at least not to take capital gains over that million dollar limit.  I don’t know about the UK, but I seem to recall Obama recently saying that the tax on upper income earners here under debate is not on the entire million per annum; it’s only on that money acquired OVER a million.  So, if I were extremely distrustful of the money the government spends, I would keep that extra money to myself by giving to a charity of my choice, or buying untaxable municipal bonds.  Something like that.  I’m pretty sure lawyers and accountants know what to do.

          • Gregg Smith

            I don’t know the details in the UK but the millionaire tax in NY was a disaster to revenue. Money fled the State.

          • Ellen Dibble

            But would money flee the United States?  Given the Bermuda triangle of taxless states that make money disappear into thin air, you’d wonder why ANY money stays in this fair land.  My opinion?  They like to vote in our elections, the better to make sure their loopholes stay in place.

          • Gregg Smith

            True, it’s easier to switch states than countries. 

        • hypocracy1

          No, that just reminds us that the wealthy hold no national allegiance.. 

  • sickofthechit

    I acknowledge with appropriate levels of chagrin that it was our (KY’s) senior Senator who filibustered himself yesterday (December 6th, 2012) on the Senate floor.  Another proud moment from Mitch the #itch.

    So I started a simple little ditty sung to the tune of “How to Handle a Woman” from the Musical “Camelot”

    How to reecallll a Senator?
    Mark my words I will tell you sir,
    The way to recallll a Senator,
    is impossiblllle, simplyyy impossible.

    Here in Olllld Kentucky,
    We may dream that there is a way,
    But as far as I know in Kentucky,
    We must wait for election day……

    Charles A. Bowsher

  • 1Brett1

    MCConnell has taken obstruction to new heights, and he made history yesterday when he made a proposal on a bill to vote on giving presidential powers the authority to raise the debt ceiling by Executive Order. He had hoped to embarrass the Democrats, thinking they would not have the votes, in turn making so-called presidential power grabs look unappealing to even Democrats. Minority Leader McConnell’s bluff was called by Majority Leader Reid who said okay to an up or down vote. McConnell then filibustered his own bill and was forced to say no to putting it up for the vote.

    In other Republican obstructionist news, Sen. Jim DeMint announced his departure from his “junior” Senate seat to go be the head of The Heritage Foundation (premiere conservative think tank). DeMint only has about $40 grand in assests (not very impressive; he’s only a few years older than I and not that far from retirement age). The head honcho’s salary over at The Heritage Foundation is over a million a year. It’s difficult to know who is more relieved to have him go, Democrats or Republicans? Junior Senator DeMint is one of the early supporters of the Tea Party Movement and is a member of a congressional T.P. caucus.

    • keltcrusader

      “premiere conservative think tank”

      LOL

    • Ray in VT

      That first bit is just funny, albeit in a sad sort of way.  Some comedy just writes itself.

    • Gregg Smith

      Reid is refusing to bring Obama’s proposal to a vote. Why?

    • Ellen Dibble

      Is the Heritage Foundation more about raising money, perpetrating ideas, or regulating the ranks (think Grover Norquist)?  The news I heard said the Tea Party senator  Demint figures he can have a lot more influence, with national influence, from the Foundation.  To me, that suggests that he found the Tea Party can’t really achieve its aims in Congress — at least not now.  Also, it seems to me that the Tea Party needs someone with experience in government to help sort out the practicalities and philosophies in that movement.  ”Just say no” has pretty much been discredited by the voters, it seems to me.  A dysfunctional Congress is a self-fulfilling objective, and the voters may want large or small, but I think we all want “effective” as part of it.

      • J__o__h__n

        I think it was for a paycheck.  The institution is influential, but the director himself isn’t.  Can you name the one stepping down?

        The only thing uniting the Teabaggers is their opposition to governing. 

        • Ellen Dibble

          I somehow can’t believe that such a message can be made into anything substantial.  William F. Buckley wouldn’t even bother to argue it down, it seems to me.  The paycheck may have big draw on someone whose idea of money well-spent is — well, that’s a good question?  What will DeMint do with his new money?  But if he DOES have a substantial understanding of the Tea Party and its role in shaping public policy, then hopefully he can use the directorship of the Heritage Foundation to steer that philosophy more fruitfully into the Republican party.  Maybe there is no way to do that as a minority member of the Senate.

          • Gregg Smith

            I’m pretty sure Jim DeMint started the Tea Party caucus. He’s a true believer, the real deal and a good decent man. He has been outspoken against the establishment Republicans although he and Harry Reid are friends. I think Heritage is a good fit and there is nothing nefarious going on.

          • Ellen Dibble

            I’m trying to think what “nefarious” might mean here. I am optimistic that the Heritage Foundation might become more full-blooded, and less an untuned ideological trumpet.  Sorry if that is a snap judgment, and it is just an impression from looking at talking heads.  Right now, it is to some extent a strike against someone if they associate with Heritage.  Maybe I’m the only one who sees it like that, but Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck might not be the best political philosophers, so maybe Heritage can start by providing some backbone.  Sorry, but that’s the way I see it.

          • Gregg Smith

            No need to be sorry about it. I understand the baggage Heritage carries in some circles. Different perspective are what makes the world go around. I happen to think being a member of Heritage is a feather in the cap and not a strike. We are both right because it’s a matter of opinion. 

            It’s very rare for Rush to have Guest but he had Jim DeMint and Ed Feulner (the outgoing CEO) on yesterday.

            BTW, by “nefarious” I was mainly referring to the paycheck thing.

          • Ellen Dibble

            Oh, I see, money for money’s sake is nefarious?  From a conservative? That IS different.

          • Gregg Smith

            Apologies, I inferred the accusation was that DeMint was paid off for doing the bidding of the Tea Party with a cush job where he could run the country like the Wizard of OZ. I must have been particularly cynical and sloppy as I don’t see that in rereading. I’ve heard a lot of commentary on it. I was projecting what others have said.

            Money is good.

        • Gregg Smith

          You are usually fair-minded (homo-erotic insults aside) even when I disagree as I do here so speaking of paychecks what is your take on the Detroit councilwoman demanding a quid pro quo for helping elect Obama. You don’t have to speculate on that one as with DeMint.

          http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/12/05/detroit-councilwoman-to-obama-voted-for-now-bail-us-out/

          • J__o__h__n

            They called themselves that.  I am insulted that they sully the real Tea Party with their asserted association.

            I’m not familar with her.  Is there a source other than Fox?  I don’t trust them as a source so I don’t read their content.

          • Gregg Smith

            You’re kidding right? It’s a video with the woman saying it. Will it make a difference if I find it on youtube for you?

            And please on the tea bagger thing. They don’t call themselves that. I think early on someone at Fox said it. I think it was Grif Jenkins. Not everybody is fluent on homo-erotic jargon but the liberals jumped all over it. They seem to know the language.

          • Gregg Smith
      • 1Brett1

        John below beat me to it; there isn’t much power in being the president of The Heritage Foundation…I heard DeMint talk of better, more influential power yesterday, also…but, hey, he’s probably not gonna say he hasn’t much to show for himself at his age and decided to go for the bucks.

        I wonder about people like DeMint or Bachmann, etc., how much they either believe in the Tea Party or hopped on their bandwagon for political momentum? 

      • jimino

        Maybe he can focus the Foundation’s efforts on our nation’s health care system now that its proposals have been enacted with the passage of “Obamacare.”

    • John_in_Amherst

       DeMint moving to the heritage foundation is proof positive that “conservative think tank” is becoming an oxymoron.  Conservatives who use “academic” as invective apparently prefer “experts” who are not intellectually gifted.

      • DrewInGeorgia

        Becoming an oxymoron?

        • John_in_Amherst

           I admit, I was trying to be charitable

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

       Filibustered his own bill?

      I can’t figure out if that’s more a Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy move.

    • hennorama

      Congratulations on your buffoonery, Sen. McConnell.  You have now raised the bar to perhaps an unsurpassable new level.  Well done.

      So long, Sen. DeMint.  Thanks for giving us such a strong signal that the Tea Party will now become a mere historical footnote.  Congratulations on your cynical use of your brief time in the Senate as a stepping stone to a personal fortune.

      You will not be missed.

  • 1Brett1

    No mention all week on On Point about the UN Treaty on extending disability rights to countries around the world…Republicans all voted it down. I guess they hate the UN more than they want to encourage support for people with disabilities?!

    • Shag_Wevera

      Gotta beat back the New World Order…

      • 1Brett1

        Yeah, those people in blue helmets might show up in their wheelchairs, toting guns and trying to herd home-school teachers down a hole for not having a wheelchair ramp going from their kitchen to their living room! 

    • John_in_Amherst

       The spectacle of Bob Dole in a wheel chair advocating in vain for the GOP to pass this was pathetic.  Did this actually hearten the GOP base?

    • hennorama

      Actually, 8 Republicans Senators voted for ratification:
       
      Ayotte (R-NH), Barrasso (R-WY), Brown (R-MA), Lugar (R-IN), McCain (R-AZ), Murkowski (R-AK), and Snowe (R-ME).  Of these, 3 are lame ducks (Brown, Lugar and Snowe) and none of the rest are up for re-election until at least 2016.

      • hennorama

        Oopsie - I omitted Collins (R-ME).  She IS up for re-election in 2014.  My apologies.

      • 1Brett1

        My comment didn’t come out right…I knew McCain, Snowe and Murkowski voted for it, but the down vote from Repubs killed it! Thanks, henn.

  • Ellen Dibble

    There seems to be a new consensus in international diplomacy about preemptive action against chemical weapons.  Could this lead to an agency corresponding to the IAEA in order to enforce that?  Or does that exist?  Where does Egypt come down on chemical weapons?  Do any countries think this is other than criminal vis-a-vis humanity?  Next time a cloud of sarin comes floating over several million humans a couple of countries away from a conflict, it seems to me such an agency will materialize.

    • Acnestes

      It would be extremely difficult if not impossible to enforce.  Making chemical weapons requires neither exotic materials nor sophisticated technology, making them a lot more difficult to pin down than nuclear developments, which require both.

      • Ellen Dibble

        So we just capitulate?  Let it happen?

        • Acnestes

          No, I would hope not, but I don’t think an IAEA type body would be effective.  Ithink it would have to be done by more general international pressure.

          • Ellen Dibble

            I think we’re on the same page there.  Something besides official regulation seems to be part of the picture.  I wonder how that would play out, though?  How would the pressure materialize, and how would its weight be felt?  Would scientists be part of it?  Or the sort of “science” that extremists, the most volatile of the world’s population, sometimes hold to?  (Start with a belief, and then shape your facts to fit that.)

          • Acnestes

            It’s worth noting that since WW I and up untill recently chemical warfare was more or less banned by unwritten consensus since no one was comfortable with it.  Everyone had it essentially as a deterrent, but no one wanted to be the first one to use it.  Those were the days of rational actors, though, before we had a plethora of “rogue” states with little to lose.

          • Ellen Dibble

            Not to mention “non-state actors,” if you know what I mean.  Those you can’t exactly wage war against because they have no embassies, no borders,  no capital or elections, all that paraphernalia.

          • Acnestes

            In short, no accountability.  Or fixed address.

    • Gregg Smith

      I support preemptive action but Bush got raked over the coals for it. By and large I think the IAEA is feckless. If Iran’s nukes are stopped it will most likely not be by the IAEA, it will be by Israel preemptively.

      • Ellen Dibble

        Except that by agreeing to their inspections, right now Iran can apparently satisfy the rest of the world.  IAEA may be feckless if a nation decides to ignore it, but the world certainly takes note.  If you don’t abide by inspections, then the reaction of the world cannot be predicted if weapons-grade nuclear material begins to seem in position to create international imbalance.  The purpose is to create a baseline of mutual trust, not that that trust can’t be abused.

        • Gregg Smith

          Well, I agree but I don’t know that Iran will. I also think the IAEA can be jerked around and hoodwinked by despots. Hussein kicked out the inspectors in 1998 so by 2003 we had no idea what he was up to. We knew he had gassed his own people. We knew that when Israel took out his nuke program in 1981 it was farther along than anyone suspected. It was a post 9/11 world and he was shooting at our jets daily. If ever there was a time for preemptive action this was it. Bush still got grief.

          I do not want to rehash Iraq as you probably disagree but I do think preemptive action is needed at times and this may be one of them. Syria has mixed the sarin and has 60 days until it goes bad. I hope someone has the guts to stop it even if it’s a bluff.

          • Ellen Dibble

            Well, Iraq — the reasons I heard around here were that the sanctions the US had imposed were seriously hurting mothers and children but not impacting the Iraqi ruling class.  I worry about that in Iran.  The State Department says that hopefully the people of Iran will pressure their own government.  Geez! 
                I know I would feel totally different about the US in Iraq if it had been paid for.  I think I and Pete Peterson were the only ones caring about the national debt that whole decade.  But if you have a draft, the population will let it be known if the war is unacceptable.  If you do not have a draft, but people are paying for the war, then the population will let it be known if the war is unacceptable.  The way it went, neither of those corrective balances was in play.  I as one lone citizen did not feel I had the standing to oppose what I did not understand.  I wanted to know more, and more smoke and mirrors were forthcoming.  
                I am thinking there is more than one way to skin a cat, and in Iraq, we weren’t too deft.  It’s hard to second-guess it, but the discussion would have been more productive if we had the citizen-investment, the popular buy-in, in tax dollars, forcing the administration to explain.  We were left to speculate about who might be profiting, that sort of thing.

          • Gregg Smith

            I’ll choke back most of my thoughts just because at this point it’s water under the bridge.

            Regarding the sanctions, if you are not familiar please look up “Oil for Food”. It was a well intended sanction but Hussein exploited it to his benefit while the people it was supposed to help suffered. France was on the take and actually profited. This is more evidence that sanctions don’t (or at least didn’t) work. It took 12 years and 17 UN resolutions before the cowboy pulled the trigger. Unimaginable suffering took place during those years and IMHO it would have been far better if Bush 41 took Bagdad in 1991.

            So again, without getting into the weeds of Iraq too deeply I support preemptive action. I think sometimes in the long run blood and treasure can be saved by going to war. It is said Truman saved countless lives by ending WWII pronto with nukes. These are gut-wrenching decisions and if they are seen through the lens of history as good most of the time those who made them are long gone. I could not do it.

          • Ellen Dibble

            I think this is relevant and appreciate your inputs, because of the sanctions being applied to Iran.  It seems to me that in nations that are not answerable to the population (such as Iraq, and now such as Iran, apparently), sanctions do NOT have the desired effect of forcing the population to force their leaders to do this or that.  Some leaders, the more they lose popular support, the more they dig in their heels.  What might work in America sanctions-wise, with a freely expressing itself and voting and assembling people, does not work in every country.  Try that in North Korea?  It almost seems they are doing that to themselves.

          • Gregg Smith

            Agreed, it didn’t  go well in Tiananmen Square. In 2009 the people of Iran rose up but they didn’t stand a chance without support and we were silent. Today in Syria people are being slaughtered as the world pontificates over sanctions.
            In Libya while Gadaffi was on the ropes we ceded leadership to France (bless them) and Gadaffi regained strength while we dallied, more people died than needed to. 

            IMO it comes down to the leadership of someone with a moral compass to take responsibility and act. Let the chips fall. I understand that has a downside too. Geopolitics is a bitch.

  • StilllHere

    Even Obama’s DOE says the US would benefit economically from exporting LNG.  This is stimulus, when government gets out of the way.

    • Ray in VT

      I thought that we were supposed to keep our domestic energy production in order to become energy independent and get off of Middle East oil?

      • DrewInGeorgia

        We are, unless there is short-term profit to be made.

        • Gregg Smith

          It’s a long term solution and there is more than enough to satisfy our needs and export.

          • DrewInGeorgia

            Short-Term Profit is a Long Term Solution? Thank goodness there is a rational reason we keep making the same dumb a$$ decisions over and over and over again.

          • Gregg Smith

            It’s a short term solution too. There is an overabundance.

          • DrewInGeorgia

            There is an overabundance of something, but it’s not Clean Sustainable Energy or Limitless Short-Term Gain. I can walk out to the pasture and gather a sample of what there seems to be a never-ending supply of these days.

          • Steve__T

             Until you don’t have anymore.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          B-b-b-but those image ads are so comforting. How can those energy people be lying to me?

  • nj_v2

    Mass arrests of Congress!

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/congress-arrested-on-manslaughter-charges,30588/

    Congress Arrested On Manslaughter Charges
    Negligent Group Believed Responsible For Millions Of American Deaths

  • Kathy

    Bring on the false equivalence! OMG the democrats are just as bad because a mild tax increase on the richest 2% of the population is something they won’t compromise on!

  • jim_thompson

    Tom:

    As a resident of Fort Mill,SC I am so thrilled that Jim DeMint is going..he really has many of us hanging our heads in shame.  After all, what kind of guy forces a vote on Saturday-like DeMint did on the world aids treaty a few years back-then doesn’t even show up to vote?  He flew home to attend a wedding.  In my opinion he is as wretched as Jess Helms ever was.

  • Tom_Goodwin

    I keep hearing that the Republican rationale for holding to their “beliefs” is that, well, we won the House in the last election. What?! They lost 10 seats, that in the face of Tea Party generated Gerrymandering in the redistricting following the 2010 Census. They lost 2 Senate seats. Looks like they got whipped to me.

  • skeptic150

    Why do people keep saying the “wealthy” (which is incorrectly used for people making >250k- some of these people do not have significant net wealth) don’t care?  I am in this group, and I think a flat tax is more “fair- why should I pay more because I make more than 250k/ year? I pay more in relative and absolute taxes already, and many pay far less, proportionately and absolutely, than I do. I say suck it up America, all of us, and reconsider a flat tax where we all truly contribute to paying off the debt accumulated by all the morons, red and blue, in Washington.

    • hypocracy1

      If you make more the 250k a year and you don’t feel like you are “wealthy” then you are doing something wrong…just sayin’.

      • skeptic150

        I am doing ok, but I know some who have just finished their education with significant education debt and actually have a negative net monetary worth now – we cannot automatically call people “wealthy” simply because they make more than 250k/year.

      • Ellen Dibble

        If you run with a crowd that makes more than 250k a year, you probably did so by wanting to have that kind of money, being Type A and all that, and thus, in that 250K crowd, you find yourself able to climb, but way looked down on, in private if not in public, by those that make say a measly 100K more than you.  If it doesn’t show up in the style of house, it will show up, you can be sure, and so the drives that brought you to 250K quickly tell you that 250K is inadequate.  To move the way you want to move (in the broadest sense, to have the influence and possibilities that you crave), you need more.  It’s not about bread and butter anymore for them; and in many ways that sort of lifestyle does NOT interfere with the lives of those living at $30K a year.   
            I think that’s what it comes down to.  People are used to leaving big tips and having people ready to bow and scrape, looking for scraps, or even large endowments.  They feel like benefactors, and like to be acknowledged as such. 

        • skeptic150

          1) I don’t “run” with such a crowd. Most of my family and best friends earn significantly less than I earn.
          2) I save some, but I give most of the money I earn to my wife and kids.
          3) The “drives” that brought me to what I earn now were desires to learn and help people. I am happy with my work, and I really don’t care how much I make (and, yes, >250k is more than “adequate” for me).
          4) I don’t necessarily care what people who make more money than I do think about me.

          So, back to the real issue I intended to raise - whether we should seriously consider a flat tax similar to Forbes’ proposal in the past or to other flat tax models.

          • Ellen Dibble

            Somehow I didn’t think you were one of that lot.  I’m trying to lay out that particular mindset, and maybe Rasmussen or one of the pollsters can fill that out more.  It HAS been determined that those earning more than $250,000 do not actually create more jobs if taxed more (I mean if taxed less, Freudian slip?), not speaking of you personally.  But I think we have pictures of those who make average incomes, but not so well defined pictures of those in the higher ranges.  
                I’m not going to weigh in on the flat tax model right now because I don’t think it’s on the table, by either side.  If there were an hour of OnPoint with experts pro and con, then I would have a few things to say, but there are thousands and thousands of angles on that.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            The flat tax model is not on the table, per se.

            But who is the last pundit to get laughed, to lose their place in the media’s Rolodex, for dreaming it existed?

            And (a comparison question) who is the last pundit to keep getting invited on TV after saying “What we need is an increase in the marginal tax rate to 45%”?

            (I chose 45% almost at random.)

          • Ellen Dibble

            I see what you mean, but I do hear pundits on TV reminding us that we did amazingly well under Eisenhower with upper level tax rates of — is it 90%?  70%?  With that, we built the super highways, got the  returning GI’s through college and into private homes.  Go figure.  Oh, and undertook the Marshall plan, with troops remaining in Europe rebuilding THOSE economies.  Awesome.  So we switched from that kind of aggressive government to a government of Medicare and skipping out of financial planning per se.  Way to go, America.  But the pundits aren’t there yet.  Maybe if we had X million GI’s, voting GI’s, sitting out there, we’d start thinking in terms of what we CAN do once again.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Yep. The public are leading the pundits towards what you and I would consider “normative” or even “progress”.

            Again.

            The groupthink inside the Beltway bespeaks an inbrededness the Hapsburgs would find alarming.

      • Flytrap

         Move to any desirable neighborhood in a major metro area in the Northeast and 250K doesn’t go that far. 

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       Try living on $30K a year. With no medical insurance. With no retirement plan. With your entire salary subject to SS and medicare taxes. Then figure out why it is that you do not have significant net worth if you make more than a quarter of a million a year. If you make $30K a year, you pay 100% to live on and need more. People in your income group pay a substantially lower percentage of income in order to stay alive. The rest is toys.

      “reconsider a flat tax where we all truly contribute to paying off the debt”

      And what rate would that be? 1%? 5%? 10%

      “why should I pay more because I make more than 250k/ year?”

      Because you are:
      - Able to live VERY well on what you make. A change to the Clinton (and Reagan) tax rates will not change that.

      - Overpaid. At $250K a year, you are making $120/hr on a 40 hour work week, no vacation. Think minimum wage – $7.25/hr – $15K a year. Do you work 16.5 times as many hours a week?

      Yep, that person should pay the same tax rate as you pay because it would be “fair”.  Using the percentages above:
      Your tax: $2,500, $12,500, $25,000
      Their tax: $150, $750, $1,500
      Using the current 2012 tax tables and no (VERY unlikely) deductions/credits/tax advantaged items other than your personal deduction, your tax will be: $63,819. Barely more than the average family of 4 grosses and leaving you with “only” $186K to live on. Poor baby. To that I copy your comment: “Suck it up”. 

      - Entitled. Perhaps you should consider that you are likely well above average intelligence (due to your excellent selection of parents), had a lot of help getting to where you are now (even though you put a lot of work in as well) that is not available to the less well off. That might have been a stable home life, parents who were able to help with homework and help pay for college. Not everyone in the > $250 levels had the same amount of “benefit” but I’ll bet you will be hard pressed to find many that didn’t meet the first line of this part. But hey, if you are below average intelligence (as is half the population by definition) and can’t pull in that $120/hr job, it is YOUR fault for choosing parents from the wrong gene pool.
       
      BTW: How many jobs are you creating with your > $250K income?

      • skeptic150

        1) I used to make ~30k/year – married, with kids – we budgeted and made it work.
        2) If I recall, Forbes proposed ~18% flat tax – this would be graduated above the poverty line (like other flat tax models around the world).
        3) I am doing ok, but I know some who have just finished their education with significant education debt and actually have a negative net monetary worth now – we cannot automatically call people “wealthy” simply because they make more than 250k/year.
        4) Neither of my parents went to college, they were blue collar workers, and we were at best “lower middle class;” my parents are now retired and still have a mortgage on their home.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      What do you mean “singled out”? Do you realize that the tax cut I got (about $300 in a lump sum) was a hell of a lot less than yours? Do you realize that the big imbroglio is over 3.6% on just the amount you make over $250k?

      The terms “More” and “far less”.

      Than who? And by what amount?

      Where do these feelings of persecution come from, and what does your tax accountant say?

      if you feel particularly singled out, who is escaping the attention, who is hiding their booty away which you feel should be put in the pile of taxing things?

      What’s a flat tax gonna fix?

      • skeptic150

        A flat tax of ~15-20% (graduated above the poverty level as in other countries) would simplify our tax code and generate significantly more revenue than our current tax system.  A flat tax of ~5% would pay for a national health care system.  So, let’s say ~5% for health care and ~15% for the rest = ~20%.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          I don’t care that you pay more than most Americans earn. That’s not a point of pride or suffering, that’s simply what a progressive tax system is supposed to do.

          Why Mitt Romney, you, I, and the grocery-bagger should pay the same rate (edited to reflect “rate”, my intended meaning) is beyond me. What I hear from our mainstream media is a lot of “waaah, nobody can fix it, let’s flatten it”.

          That is a feature, not a bug, of people who have a vested interest in making people much richer than you pay exactly the same percentage as you.

          If you’re fool enough to carry their water, fine. But don’t try to sell the rest of us on that bilge.

          • skeptic150

            “Why Mitt Romney, you, I, and the grocery-bagger should pay the same rate”
            Because we are paying taxes for the same reasons and the same benefits. 
            The sad reality is many people are not contributing their “fair share” to pay off the debt and to provide the same services we all receive.  So, now that I have progressed from a bag boy (which I did) to >250k, I am expected to pay relatively and absolutely more?  For what – to pay off the same debt as all taxpayers and to receive the same benefits that someone making 100k or less is going to get?
            I am totally ok with helping those not making much and exempting those below the poverty line from any tax.  My proposal is a flat tax similar to many other countries. 

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Screw the flat tax.

            I thought you were a fool. Now I’m just calling you a knave.

            Get all the grocery-baggers, baristas, and busboys to do your bidding on the flat tax. I dare you.

        • StilllHere

          Whao!  What’s with all the percentages?  No thank you. When you talk relatives, you’re ignoring the absolutes; and vice versa.  

          We’ve basically figured out that your work ethic is going to make you earn more, and you won’t do anything about it, no matter how much we tax you.  And thank goodness, because somehow you need to pay for those who, let’s just say, don’t share your love of work.

      • skeptic150

        And, not that it’s really relevant, I pay more in taxes (absolute) every year now than most Americans earn in a year.  And I come from a blue collar background and I used to make less than 40k/yr, so enough with the ad hominems and deal with the issues.

        • StilllHere

          The Constitution doesn’t say anything about after-tax income having to be a positive number!  We need your money so retired teachers can get free Viagra.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Maybe you should practice your “satire” more in front of a mirror before going on the stage.

    • StilllHere

      Sorry rich guy, “fair” is you paying more so we don’t have to.

      • skeptic150

        That is precisely what this amounts to. Many countries have a flat tax, and I think it is a reasonable alternative (and better than what we currently have in America).

  • nj_v2

    This week in Republican jackassery:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/mapes/index.ssf/2012/12/washington_county_gop_chairman.html
    Washington County GOP chairman resigns after taking hits for email attacking Democrats as communists

    http://www.politicususa.com/bernie-sanders-rips-john-boehner-calling-cuts-disabled-veterans-benefits.html
    Bernie Sanders Rips John Boehner for Calling for Cuts to Disabled Veterans’ Benefits

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2012/12/06/senate-republicans-profiles-in-moral-cowardice/?hpid=z2
    Senate Republicans’ profiles in moral cowardice

    http://politicalwire.com/archives/2012/12/04/nearly_half_of_republicans_think_election_was_stolen.html
    Nearly Half of Republicans Think Election was Stolen

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/12/05/1285281/incoming-wisconsin-speaker-amend-the-constitution-to-allow-voter-suppression/?mobile=nc
    Incoming Wisconsin Assembly Speaker: Amend The Constitution To Allow Voter Suppression

  • bethrjacobs

    congress should disclose all income and if make more then$150,000 give back salaries

  • silverimagelimited

    Former Senator DeMint has betrayed the thousands of VOTERS who were gracious enough to give their time effort and put him in public office. What happens to public servants who quit their jobs? Ask Sara Palin!

    • JGC

      Stephen Colbert for Senator!

  • Wahoo_wa

    One thing’s for certain, we can safely add “fiscal cliff”/”going over the fiscal cliff” to the “Most Overused Terms/Phrases of 2012″.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    If anyone in Congress says they will agree to $800M in additional tax revenues over 10 years on loophole and deduction changes they are either fooling themselves or lying.

    They know that they will each fight tooth and nail to save “their” special interest deductions. And whatever they come up with that would have the rich pay more money will be circumvented by the accountants that exist to make sure the rich pay as little as possible.

    And the same old stupid smoke and mirrors talk keeps up:
    Removing deductions and credits while lowering the tax rates does NOTHING to raise revenues. If they want to increase revenues, they can:
    - cut deductions and credits, leaving the tax rates alone.
    - leave the deductions and credits alone and raise the rates
    - do a combination of both

    We, the 99% (at least this 1 of the 99%), don’t give a rat’s patootie which they choose THIS WEEK. Those that make more money in a year or three than most make in a lifetime can put a bit more into the pot.

    If the Republicans don’t want to raise revenues, they better spell out EXACTLY what they are going to cut in spending. But that is another “never come to agreement” years longer boondoggle.

    Yep, kick the can down the road a few more years.

    • Ellen Dibble

      I believe it was Tom Friedman on some TV show last week saying that the debt ceiling being part of the negotiations is a case of government by blackmail.  I can hear his voice saying:  ”Nice little economy you have there; how about … heh-heh.”

      • Gregg Smith

        That’s one of the few times I agree with Friedman but I see it as a good thing. There has to be some check on things.

        • BHA_in_Vermont

           Except it is Congress that votes to pass a budget that exceeds the debt ceiling.

          How do they then say “you can’t raise the ceiling to pay for the things we voted to pay for”?

          • Gregg Smith

            I know, it’s crazy but it’s better than nothing.

          • Ellen Dibble

            The fact the alternative is “nothing” is what prevents negotiation.

      • Ellen Dibble

        I’m thinking it was Paul Krugman who said that, probably on the PBS Newshour.  Woops!  Anyone sure?  I’m just thinking…

  • Flytrap

    What is so bad to me is that the Pres. isn’t interested in getting us on financially stable ground, it’s about “fairness” for him, not solving the problem.  I find this troubling.

    • Wahoo_wa

      I understand that, even if taxes increase for the upper income levels, we will still not be able to pay down the debt significantly.  Budget cuts MUST be as much a part of the discussion as raising taxes and closing tax loopholes.

      • DeJay79

         they are, and they will happen

      • Gregg Smith

        You are too kind. If we took ALL of the money from the rich the debt would not be paid down a penny.

        • jimino

          Wrong.  The private NET worth of everyone in the USA is around $60 trillion and over 35% is owned by the top 1%, so we could easily pay off our complete deficit by doing so. 

          And of course nobody is actually calling for anything even remotely resembling that. 

          • Gregg Smith

            You must be talking about everyone including corporations and adding all their assets as well as human capital(skills). I’m not sure. I said “all the money from the rich” not all the net worth of everybody. I am defining “rich” in the context of the current debate which is those earning over $250K. There are about  2 and a quarter million of them and it would yield around $1.42 trillion. That won’t do it and then the money is gone. 

            It is true no one is calling for it, I am illustrating the absurdity of raising the top rate a few points and thinking it will have any effect at all on debt.

            BTW, I would say the same thing if we actually did take all the net worth and raised the $60 trillion you mention. We would not pay down the debt, we would just spend more. That’s the record.

          • jimino

            No, my figure just represents privately owned assets including home equity and stock value.  People call it “what you own.”  Do you really have no concept that this is the scope and size of privately owned assets in our country?  The average household’s net worth is  around $600,000, but of course less than 5% of total households have that average amount.  So much for statistics being illuminating.

            You may be referring to income for one year, which is not the same of course.  The average household with a home loan could not pay off its debt if you applied all of its income for a year to the debt either, but a household with income of $50,000 and debt of $100,000 would never be thought of as deeply or dangerously in debt.

          • Gregg Smith

            Geesh, do you get my point or not?Government cannot be trusted with a blank check.

            When I wrote “ALL their money” I meant money. And yes, I could have been more accurate and said, “all the money over $250K earned in a year”. Sue me. My point stands.

          • jimino

            This started with me responding to you stating “If we took ALL of the money from the rich the debt would not be paid down a penny.”  As I have shown, that claim is wrong (as well as irrelevant).  As to your “point”, who are you arguing with?  Is someone advocating giving a blank check to the government?

          • Gregg Smith

            Anyone in favor of raising the debt ceiling is IMO asking for a blank check. And no, I don’t agree. All you claimed was there was a lot of money out there. Let me put it this way, “A 100% rate on $250K+ will not reduce the debt a penny”.

            I can’t believe you are arguing this.

      • StilllHere

        Tax increases will come.  We will never see spending cut!

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      I wonder, why is it that you and all the PrincipledConservative(TM) who worried about this during the Bush years, in your hundreds of millions, couldn’t make Shrub do squat about it? And now there’s a Democrat in the White House, and you’re all right in this space?

      While I ponder that question, I’ll go back to the mainstream media and get another dose about how the new conservative righties are different from the old failed Republicans.

      • Flytrap

         Nice way to elide my point.  With Bush, at least there was the war to fund, agree with the war or not.  Now that Iraq is mostly a memory and Afghanistan is slowing down, the major justification for the spending is gone, yet the spending has doubled. 

        As I said, nobama has no interest in curbing spending or trying to be fiscally responsible.  What he is interested in is retribution against the “rich.”  That is what Stalin did to the Kulaks.  I think I’ll go back to the mainstream media and get another dose about how the new leftists are different from the old failed Communists. 
        http://www.americanthinker.com/video/2012/11/a_tribute_to_communism_warning_graphic_images.html

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Pfft.

          Funny how all those bills Bush ran up aren’t something Obama has to worrying about paying.

          Funny how “letting the Bush loaves for the rich cuts” meet your meaning of “retribution”. I just hope you’re as rich as your policy wishes are; if not you’re just a useful fool for them.

          And keep linking to American Thinker. It makes dismissing you ever so much easier.

          • Flytrap

             Funny how Abu Ghraib was  such a big deal but drone strikes killing innocents isn’t.  Funny how the Patriot Act was an infringement of our liberties but the National Defense Authorization Act is just patriotic.  Funny how the Green protests in Iran in 2009 and the opposition protests in Egypt barely warrant a mention from nobama, but he threw his weight behind the Islamist takeover in North Africa with nary a peep from the leftists.  Funny how “progressives” lose their principles and are nothing more than narrow minded, retribution seeking, tribalist bigots when they are in power. 

          • Flytrap
          • hennorama

            The article you linked to is simply another along the same lines BY THE SAME AUTHOR as his post from Oct. 26, 2012, which ran with the headline “Over $60,000 in Welfare Spent Per Household in Poverty”.  At least that time the author, unlike either yourself or this current article, included the following disclaimer:

            “To be clear, not all households living below the poverty line receive $61,194 worth of assistance per year. After all, many above the poverty line also receive benefits from social welfare programs (e.g. pell grants).”
            Don’t fall for this deliberately misleading “statistic”, which is further proof that Mark Twain was right in saying “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
            It is meant to convey the impression that every family living below the poverty line gets $61,194 annually from “the government.”  This is obviously completely untrue.

            The data used to compile these figures are indeed from reliable sources, but the use of the term “welfare” is deliberately misleading.  The way these particular Republicans (Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions’ STAFF) use this term expands it to include health programs, “STATE contributions to Federal Welfare” (whatever this means), direct cash aid, food assistance, housing and social services, and “Other” (again, whatever that means).

            Do they cite or use the total number of households who receive one or more of these types of assistance?  NO they do not.  They simply lump all the numbers together, then divide by the number of households with incomes “below the poverty line” in 2011 – 16,807,795.  Perhaps just a tad misleading, no?

            How does the general populace perceive of the word “welfare?”  They perceive of it as the cash assistance and/or other basic assistance provided to the needy, mostly the way Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines it:
            “Definition of WELFARE2a : aid in the form of money or necessities for those in need”
            Again, these Republicans, and the parroting author of this WS blog, are using data to deliberately mislead in order to create a false impression. 

            Don’t fall for it.

          • Flytrap

             I appreciate you further clarifying this statistic and I would like to see it broken down in the manner you question.  I do feel that the criteria they include as welfare is correct even if it should be explained better.  For instance, if you consider health care a right, then health assistance should be considered welfare. 

            Maybe you do, but I do not work in a think tank and have time to break down the numbers as I would like to see them.  If you have a source or the time, I would like to see the numbers because contrary to popular belief, having my assumptions proven wrong won’t bother me that much.  Being hypocritical and dishonest to further my beliefs is what I consider reprehensible. 

          • hennorama

            Flytrap – thank you for your response. I appreciate your being open to the actual information rather than the manipulation by Sen. Sessions and the blogger.

            This is the original blog entry I referred to. It contains a breakdown of the various items considered to be “welfare” by the blogger and Sen. Sessions and his staff. Be careful though, as you will not find any information as to how many households actually receive benefits from one or more of these programs or categories. That would take a lot more digging to tease out, especially with the overlaps involved. The number of TOTAL households is no doubt MUCH larger the number of households “in poverty.”

            Without that info, one cannot get a more accurate picture, such as the answer to “What is the average benefit received by any household receiving any form of “welfare” (even as they define the term)?”

            Note also that the Census data they refer to are “based on responses from a sample of the population and may differ from the actual values becasue of sampling variability and other factors.”

            Responses from a sample. Rather shaky ground on which to base conclusions, wouldn’t you say?

            I encourage you and others to read the information carefully, and look at the source info if at all possible. Then you can decide whether you were being deliberately misled, or not.

            http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/over-60000-welfare-spentper-household-poverty_657889.html

          • Flytrap

             I agree with you about checking sources etc.  My clumsily made point was that there has to huge chunks removed from the welfare budget.  The numbers were manipulated in a way to get a sensational headline that will hopefully make the point that the budget has lots of fat to be trimmed and Obama refusing to do so is also unfair.

          • hennorama

            Flytrap – TY for your response. I appreciate your views.

            Perhaps you could first define what YOU mean by “welfare,” since the conventional meaning seems to have been expanded by Republicans and others (probably as a result of focus-grouping by Frank Luntz). It’s difficult to have an informed exchange without a clear understanding of the terms involved.

            Once you’ve defined “welfare,” then you might propose exactly what programs you feel should be cut, by how much, and who should no longer receive benefits from the programs you seek to cut. You may also wish to consider what the impacts might be on those individuals, as well as the overall economic impact.

            Then we can have a real discussion.

            Thank you again for your response.

          • Flytrap

             I would use the definition used in the article, “The universe of means-tested welfare spending refers to programs that
            provide low-income assistance in the form of direct or indirect
            financial support—such as food stamps, free housing, child care,
            etc.—and which the recipient does not pay into (in contrast to Medicare
            or Social Security).” 

            As to what should be cut, I don’t know exactly.  Pretty sure most or all of HUD would go along with the mortgage deduction.  Going into the detail you describe and coming up with an action plan is akin to getting together with friends and playing Dungeons and Dragons.  It’s creating a fantasy world where we each pretend to have power.  There’s no sense getting in the weeds of the process when the principle has been rejected by the powers that be.

            My goal is to show that refusing spending cuts is just as un-principled and unfair as refusing to raise revenues.  Simply casting aspersions upon your opponents and pretending you have the moral high ground is unproductive.

          • hennorama

            Flytrap – TY again for the response. I appreciate your views.

            The current “fiscal cliff” political theater of proposal-rejection-counterproposal-rejection-repeat is just that – theater. It’s entertaining, but it’s all for show. The ultimate outcome will involve both sides giving up something. There will ultimately be higher Federal income tax rates on the upper brackets, and some other revenue sources, as well as some spending cuts to a variety of Federal “entitlement/welfare” programs.

            Cooler heads will prevail.

            My asking you to define your terms and positions, and to put forth some ideas, was in an effort to expand the discussion beyond mere posturing and blather to a more thoughtful exchange. Your participation is appreciated.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          • hennorama

            TF – thanks for the comment. Personally, I try to have a respectful exchange with anyone who engages with me in this forum, regardless of whether we agree or disagree. My experience has been that treating people with respect, and giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, elicits more thoughtful commentary from both parties. You may have noticed my frequent use of “Thank you for your response. I respect your views,” or similar. This tends to be a bit disarming to the reader, and indicates respect but not agreement. I’ve found this leads to more in-depth exchanges overall.

            Thanks again for your comment.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            (Henno, I posted something, thought better of it, and removed it. But “thanks for your reply” is sorta a thing I “bake into the cake” already. As I mention often, my actual vocal tone is scrubbed off by the internet. Although I do get why you do it.)

          • hennorama

            Yes, I noticed the deletion. As to my little “tricks” – I believe it’s the “respect” that is more important than the “TY” part. Regardless, I’ve found that it works to be both polite and respectful. Attacking and posturing are easy – thoughtful discussion is more difficult. Anything one can do to promote thoughtful exchange is worth the effort, IMO.

        • StilllHere

          Nice try, you will now be directed again towards the distant past and the sniping will begin.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            The distant past. Hardehar. Still waiting for some right winger to cut spending when they’re in power.

    • StilllHere

      Prepare to be transported to the distant past as the relativists snipe.

    • jimino

      I agree.  When one hears people talking about the wealthy already paying their “fair share”, the only legitimate response is “who cares.”  Life ain’t fair.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YMV2HJ2TBKMCN2QRAVI3I2OOGM Jim Jim

    You can ask yourself “why is there such a gulf between the will of the people and representation in the House?”  Much of the “fiscal cliff” boils down to heavily gerrymandered districts in most states. Just because you might say “this is what republicans/democrats want” has nothing to do with what Americans want.

    • StilllHere

      All districts are gerrymandered, grow up.

  • Ed75

    I remember, it was Joe Klein who reported on the conflict between the Clintons and President Obama.

    • keltcrusader

      That would be Ed Klein. Joe Klein correctly believes Lou Dobbs is a #1 hack.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Waitaminit, Joe Klein got something actual and correct? Before everybody he knows came to the same conclusion?

        Quel horror.

        When Joke Line turns on ya, Lou Dobbs, you really are over!

        • keltcrusader

          Ed75 seems to think Joe Klein was on Lou Dobb’s show, but it was Ed Klein.

          • J__o__h__n

            I thought it was Calvin.

          • keltcrusader

            lol

            and hobbs?

    • Gregg Smith

      You’re a gentlemen Ed.

  • SuziVt

    I’m amazed at the republican Congress. They need to get out more. The majority of the American people, Republicans included, do not share their aversion to raising taxes on the very rich. These representatives are working for ALL the people, not just their wealthy friends. The middle class should also be paying a little more taxes, it’s time to make sacrifices to pay for these ridiculous wars we’ve waged. Don’t tell me the wealthy need to hang on to their money to create jobs. They’ve had their money long enough and they are not creating jobs, they’re sticking most of it in their off shore banks and living large on the rest. President Obama won the election, stop acting like there’s a republican mandate to protect the very wealthy. Do your job or follow Jim DeMint and get out! 

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       ”These representatives are working for ALL the people, not just their wealthy friends.”

      Apparently not.

    • Ellen Dibble

      And I think that the Citizens United decision pretty much determined that they do get out — a LOT — for the purposes of raising money for the next campaign.  Signing onto the Norquist pledge might help diminish the demands of nonstop fund-raising.  But for sure, if you want to minimize your time fundraising, you head for the groups most likely to represent concentrated money.  And the flip side of that is you have less time, a lot less time, for exposing yourself to the 47%, and it’s easy to sort of write them/us off.  Don’t even try for their votes.  Just aim for the votes of the top 51%.  That’s enough.  If they vote against their own interests, heaven help us.  But maybe we can get some of the 47% to vote against THEIR own interests.  I know certain hot-button issues that might bring along JUST enough voters.  
          By the way, no, I’m not a cynic about Americans, but I think the process brings out the worst in us, and we find ourselves trying to be our best In Spite of the process, which makes me rather proud.

    • Ellen Dibble

      And I think that the Citizens United decision pretty much determined that they do get out — a LOT — for the purposes of raising money for the next campaign.  Signing onto the Norquist pledge might help diminish the demands of nonstop fund-raising.  But for sure, if you want to minimize your time fundraising, you head for the groups most likely to represent concentrated money.  And the flip side of that is you have less time, a lot less time, for exposing yourself to the 47%, and it’s easy to sort of write them/us off.  Don’t even try for their votes.  Just aim for the votes of the top 51%.  That’s enough.  If they vote against their own interests, heaven help us.  But maybe we can get some of the 47% to vote against THEIR own interests.  I know certain hot-button issues that might bring along JUST enough voters.  
          By the way, no, I’m not a cynic about Americans, but I think the process brings out the worst in us, and we find ourselves trying to be our best In Spite of the process, which makes me rather proud.

  • DeJay79

    Spending will be cut, but we need to raise revenue at the same time. I would be happy with three things to raise that revenue.

    1. Stop all Oil and Coal Subsides!
    2. Increase tariffs on all goods from Asia.
    3. increase taxes on forms of income that benefit
    the wealthiest the most.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’d like to see how the far right positions itself vis-a-vis wealth creation.  What, are you opposed to wealth creation?  It seems to me that the banks (with considerable heft in Congress, apparently) are interested in doing as much lending as possible, and that works against wealth creation by those who most need to do it.  The safety net ends up most needed where wealth creation is kept among the already wealthy.  So I say Republicans should be in favor of making it easier on the people, not for the banks.  What happens at the very top?  I can do the math, and I just think that enabling the maximum number is a democratic ideal more than Republican ideal, at present.  So let’s just vote for the success of the few, since it obviously is not possible for the many.  Is that the Republican message?  Still?

  • hennorama

    The world lost two giants this week.

    Oscar Niemeyer, a visonary architect who was in the right place and time to get his amazing ideas built, died ten days before his 105th! birthday.  Descanse em paz, senhor.

    See some of his most notable structures here:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/ultratravel/9727010/Oscar-Niemeyer-buildings-around-the-world.html
    http://gizmodo.com/5966130/here-are-architect-oscar-niemeyers-most-beautiful-buildings/gallery/1

    Part 2 of todays’ On Point show is about jazz giant Dave Brubeck, whose use of unusual time signatures shook things up in the 1950s and beyond. He died one day short of his 92nd birhtday.  Take Five, man, then Time Out.

    They will be greatly missed, but both left behind creations that will be enjoyed by the world for generations to come.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The reporting out of Egypt has been interesting.  It makes sense to me.  The opposition begins to cohere.  The intentions of Morsi seem laudable, protecting his sense of process from Mubarak holdovers in the judiciary, whereas those not in the Brotherhood think the effect of Morsi’s strong-arm approach is to leave them out of the process, unlikely to have a fair share of participation. It is interesting to see it playing out in the streets, with so many Egyptians apparently believing that the streets is about as democratic as it can be, at present.  Where is President  Carter and his election observation organization?

  • Wahoo_wa

    I wish NPR would do a piece explaining why Israel is so important to the United States.  It seems more trouble than it’s worth to remain such close allies.

    • Dee

      Israel is a failed state and no longer represents a
      moral good in the world and in particular the ME
      conquering Palestinian Land and displacing another civilian population & depriving them of their land, freedom and human rights…

      Not to mention building illegal settlements and importing an alien population from foreign lands
      and transferring them onto stolen Palestinian
      land in violation of international law and the 4th
      Geneva Convention……

      Indeed, Israel represent another shocking war crime against the Palestinian People and their homeland of Palestine…in complicity with Jewish organizations
      world wide…

      And especially those in Washington Establishment
      and the US Congress…This is all done against the wishes of the American people with the misappro-priation of tax revenue going to an aggressive
      government in violation of Federal Laws prohibit-
      ing military assistance to a state to be used for aggression instead of actual defense. 

      Here’s a young Israeli activist Maya Wind who re-fused to join the Israeli army & be apart of her gov-ernment’s crimes against the Palestinian people…
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp8JRFA5wI&feature=endscreen&NR=1

      Shame on all the journalists and those on Tom’s
      show who pay lip service to Israeli propaganda
      about “self defense” when they ought to be con-
      cerned about the use of American weapons on
      a defenseless and occupied Palestinian popu-
      lation…Tom Ashbrook should not such spineless apologists on his show commenting on the Middle East as it is a disservice to public radio listeners…
      (Of all places to be parroting Israeli propaganda on public funded radio & TV PBS also…) Journalist
      should be free and be supported to speak the
      truth and call out and challenge this twisting of
      the truth… Dee

      P.S. As usual many Americans are way ahead of 
      game–boycotting Israeli officials and their right 
      wing apologists and Israeli goods. In addition, 
      divesting from American & EU corporations who
      promoting this land theft in the name of Israel
      and who profit from it….Especially, the KKL (Jew-
      ish National Fund)whose members bought up vacant Palestinian land following Israel’s ethnic cleansed Palestinians & kept that land in trust for Jews only. Land. See the column by the late Robert Thompson who was well aware of this shocking Zionist war crime. And Salman Abu Sitta who become a victim
      of this fanatical Jewish/Zionist policy in 1948…….
      http://archive.org/details/Salman_Abu_Sitta

      Robert Thompson , The real enemy of the Jews….
      http://www.axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_15513.shtml

    • hypocracy1

      .

  • Adrian_from_RI

    In Michigan, unions are up in arms because legislators want to pass laws that permit a right to work. Is it not strange that in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave we need laws to permit workers to work without paying tribute to union bosses and their fellow shakedown artists in the State Houses?  I always thought that the right to work was an Inalienable Right. How silly of me.

    • hypocracy1

      The right to work … for less

      • 1Brett1

        Literally, as statistical data will bear out the fact that right to work states pay workers lower wages.

        • Gregg Smith

          That would be interesting to analyze. I’m in a right to work state and don’t turn to anyone to determine my wage. I am all for the voluntary ability to join unions in the private sector but when you do, you become a number. You may be a higher number but it comes at the price of upward mobility based on merit.

        • Ray in VT

          This comes via an interested party, but here’s the take of the unions:

          http://www.facebook.com/SEIU/posts/110123265821191

        • hennorama

          Repeating myself here, but …
          Since 1970, Wages’ share of GDP has declined by nearly one-fifth (from 54% to 44%).
          This is coincident to the decline in union membership as a share of the U.S. workforce, from about 25% in 1970 to about 12% today.
          Also, since 1970, corporate profit’s share of GDP has more than doubled (from 5% to over 11%).

          • 1Brett1

            Yeah, that makes it pretty clear. The comparison between an increase in corporate profits and a decline in wages is an interesting bit of data itself! 

          • hennorama

            Thanks for the kind words.

            A bit more food for thought – if one only looks at the Wages/GDP ratio since 1970 (see link to the chart), you can see how it decreases sharply during and after each recession (shaded areas on chart). Employers can hold down wages by taking advantage of the large number of unemployed, as well as the large number of employed persons who feel insecure about their jobs and who will either take a pay cut or not ask for a raise due to this insecurity.

            It’s a sad fate of Astaires. ;-)

            Here’s a link to the chart:

            http://research.stlouisfed.org/fredgraph.png?g=dzP

          • StilllHere

            Not causal.

            Here are some other coincidents: number of sports franchises has increased, number of all-male colleges has declined, varieties of heirloom tomatoes has declined, number of male children born and named Dirk has increased ….

            Useless coincidents are great.

          • jimino

            Like the coincidence that our government deficit has happened to grow after Obama’s election?  Or is there some causal connection?

          • hennorama

            Thank you for confirming that I made no claim as to causality, but merely presented three sets of data showing trends over the same time period of more than 42 years.

            Please prove your claims of coincident items, for the benefit of the group.

    • Steve__T

      Wages and benefits are lower in right-to-work states. There’s a redistribution of wages and benefits
      toward owners’ capital. It has also been known as right to fire, for anything and as a worker, you have no contest. It becomes the employers right to terminate at will. All you can do is collect your unemployment and look for another job. And good luck finding one.

      • StilllHere

        Pathetic.  Consumers, workers and owners all benefit equally.

        Workers also have the ability to quit at will, taking all the training they’ve received with them.

        • Steve__T

           Delusional. What equal benefit? What training, if you don’t already, have it you anit gettin a job.

          • StilllHere

            Sorry Steve, I wasn’t referring to your ilk, only those with jobs that require a minimum level of skill and above.  Keep the dream though bud!

          • Steve__T

            Sorry, I agree yes you are. I have probably turned down more jobs than you’ve ever worked, if you’ve ever worked, would you like to try a better put down.

          • StilllHere

            Stevie, have another, make you’ll make more sense to yourself.  Cheers.

  • pete18

    A point related to some of the comments about the 250k salary
    being a measure of “wealthy,” it actually depends as much on where you live as it does the salary number.

    “Of course, one can argue that these changes follow the precepts of
    social justice: Rich people and rich regions should pay more. Yet being
    “rich” means different things in different places, due to vast
    differences in costs of living. The cost of living   in New York and Los
    Angeles, for example, is so high that the adjusted value of salaries rank in the bottom fifth in the nation.
    In other words, a couple with two children with a $150,000 income in
    Austin or Raleigh may be, in terms of housing and personal
    consumption, far “richer” than one making twice that in New York or
    Los Angeles.”

    http://www.newgeography.com/content/003289-the-blue-state-suicide-pact

    • hennorama

      It’s easier and more accurate to use the term “high income” rather than “wealthy” or “rich” when discussing taxation.

      • Ellen Dibble

        I challenge that.  Long ago I heard a Nobel physicist say that in his view, some need more money than others to live fruitfully, without cramping their productivity.  I wondered at the time what it was that he felt were legitimate expenses that were necessary to his success.  I’m still thinking.
            But I do think that one person’s wealth is another’s straitjacket, and even the best federal tax policy can’t undo that.  It happens.  So I would want all sorts of discriminations in talking about those with more than adequate resources.  I don’t think our terminology helps much, because modern-day high-income has soared to the level of plutocracy, and is different from what a community of people can appraise and apprise as either stabilizing factors in the community or destabilizing.  Maybe that’s what it ought to come down to.  But I would choose a word other than “high income” if I wanted to suggest that the high income was more than a statistic.  Beyond that, though, it’s not clear to me that sheer numbers tell the story.  People can be unbelievably creative and constructive with each added dollar that they have control over.  But they have the right to be just the opposite.

        • hennorama

          Ellen – Thank you for your response. Let me clarify what I meant by using some extreme examples, showing how one can have high income and not be rich or wealthy, and how one can have low income and be thought of as rich or wealthy.

          Taxpayer 1 (TP1) owns a house that has been refinanced multiple times. TP1 used some of the re-fi proceeds to pay for living expenses and to pay off credit cards and auto loans. Due to the decline in housing prices, the mortgage of $400,000 far exceeds the house’s value of $200,000. TP1′s only asset other than an older vehicle and a few personal possessions is a 401(k) account containing $575,000. TP1 cashes out the 401(k), pays off the mortgage and Federal taxes, and has $402 left over. TP1 has high income, but is TP1 either rich or wealthy?

          Taxpayer 2 (TP2) has no recurring income, but has assets and no debt. TP2 sells $10 million of stock for a total gain of $100. TP1 pays no income tax. TP2 then takes the $10 million, buys gold, and puts it in a safe at home. TP2 is not a high income taxpayer, but could be thought of as rich or wealthy.

          When discussing income taxation, one should use income-related terms rather than asset-related terms or net worth-related terms. That was my only point.

          • Ellen Dibble

            You’re welcome.  I see room for a lot more clarification and discussion.  Well, I see the huge discrepancies, and I’m not seeing that the IRS shouldn’t take those into account, very discriminatingly, among other discrepancies, which I suppose is why the flat tax gets bumpy pretty fast when seeking to apply it.  Assets such as houses are set forth as safer than a stocks and bonds because of being solid, and marketable by you; and banks see them as such.  I suppose one way of rating wealth would be by using the same rating agencies the banks consult.  If a person is credit worthy, they probably don’t need the credit, but a bank could appraise that, using a person’s capacity to earn, claims upon those earnings, as well as assets.  That would be one way of determining where one is in terms of “substance.”  I like to think of wealth in a more differential way, measured against the contribution of those assets to the stability of the community, which, granted, has become both a national and an international factor nowadays.  But those whose assets were used to radically DEstabilize the welfare of homeowners and job-holders all over the United States, as well as retirement fund holders all over as well — wealthy people don’t cause such disruption.  Maybe bank robbers cause disruptions like that, but not on such a colossal scale.  So I don’t necessarily view people as wealthy in the sense of benefiting and stabilizing all those within their wake, bringing prosperity and lifting boats — not necessarily according to their income OR their assets.  May people never be more wealthy than their understanding of their effect on the rest of us.

          • hennorama

            Thanks again for your response. I understand and appreciate your views.

    • Ellen Dibble

      Isn’t that mostly home values?  If so, I’m supposing Austin and Raleigh are trying their best to make their cities too costly for most of us to live in as well.

    • Steve__T

       Yes where you choose to live has a lot to do with what you say, but, have you ever heard that keeping up with the Jones’s may keep you down. If you live by choice in an unfordable house that’s your choice, nobody made you live there or buy it. If you live in LA you really don’t have to live in a Mc Mansion that’s a choice. Yes? The value of salaries is different in large city’s vs small, can you find your job in a small town? Maybe not it’s still left up to you where and how you live. That’s the wonderful thing about life you really have choices. Are the results of choices always fair? No. But choosing and choosing wisely is important. Yes?

      • pete18

        That’s all true but I’m not sure what your point is related to tax policy. My argument is that people who have been targeted for a tax hike because they are defined as “rich” or “wealthy” by Obama aren’t necessarily so. Many people live in more expensive areas because that’s the only place to find jobs in their field (the high tech industry as a case in point). Those people can buy a modest house in such areas and not live very extravagantly and yet still end up with little disposable,

        income even on a high salary relative to the rest of the country.

        Yet someone else in another part of the country can make a much lower salary but still live more extravagantly and have much more disposable income.

        This only relates to the matter of “fairness” and taxing based on the idea that the upper incomes can afford it therefore the government is free to take it. Of course, since the upper brackets already pay the bulk of taxes the idea that they need to be taxed more in the name of fairness is morally and intellectually corrupt.

         As an effective policy to solve economic matters the Obama approach is also utterly pointless
        because you could tax the top two brackets at 100% and you still wouldn’t raise enough money to make inroads on the debt or deficit.

        • Steve__T

           If its all true and you understand that, I cannot impart to you the wisdom to understand the point it relates to taxes and tax policies. I understood your point of fairness. I agree, but as I said, in life, where is fairness? Choices made freely? Yes?

           I do not understand the “fairness” of the republican congress, and doubt very much that you could educate me in the wisdom of their actions and choices.

          • pete18

             If your only point is that life is not fair, we are in full agreement. I also don’t think the moniker of “wisdom”
            fits very well with the Republican party. However, their current position on taxation comes much closer to the definition of “fairness” and economic sanity as related to budgets, if that’s really what people on the left are interested in.

  • hennorama

    “Fiscal Cliff” Ideas:

    Let the top rates go up a bit less than Pres. Obama’s proposal – say to 35.5% and 39% rather than 36% and 39.6%, on AGIs over $200K (Single) or $250K (MFJ).  One could even move this up a bit, say to AGIs of $250K and $300K respectively.

    Phase in (over 5 years) higher dividend and LT cap gains rates to limit the impact to the markets, and classify carried interest in the same way as qualified dividends.  I’d move these rates up for EVERYONE, moving the current ZERO rate up to 5% for the lowest 2 tax brackets, and up to 20% for all others.  Just move it by 1% per year, again to limit the market impacts.

    I’d also begin to phase out the 2% payroll tax reduction, moving it up in 0.5% increments every 6 to 12 months, contingent on employment levels.  The Social Security tax earnings limits should also be adjusted upward, significantly, over 5 to 10 years.  I’d move them up to at least double the current limit of about $110K.  Together, these will greatly extend Social Security viability.  Medicare taxes could also be adjusted upward slightly, perhaps to a combined 3.0% (a tiny increase of 0.1%).

    The EITC, CTC and ACTC could be trimmed slightly, either by lowering the credits or reducing eligibility.  I’d say these could easily be reduced by 5% overall, with greater reductions at higher AGI levels.

    (See – I’m trying to spread these impacts around a bit).

    Other tax reforms will have to wait until 2013 due to time constraints:  an overall limit on deductions, the “Buffett rule,” AMT indexing, FUTA reforms, etc.

    As to spending – defense can certainly be reduced.  I’d also want to look at Social Security and Medicare and definitely make them more means-tested.  Mitt Romney, Warren Buffett, Donald Trump et al do not need Federal support from either of these programs.  The Heritage Foundation has some interesting ideas on these programs, which I’d explore.

    Practically speaking, changes to Social Security and Medicare will need to be put off until the next Congressional session.  There should be a commitment from both sides to work on these, especially Medicare, since it is the more critical item.

    As to encouraging growth – the various tax incentives Pres. Obama has included in his budget, such as extending 100% depreciation, and other special incentives for manufacturers and small businesses have merit.  Anything that is specifically targeted to get the long-term unemployed back into the job market would get my vote.  Same thing with incentives for military service veterans.

    These ideas spread out the impacts of revenue increases, both over time and over all income groups, get more people to have “skin in the game,” and begin to address Social Security and Medicare.  Both Republicans and Democrats would likely hate something in this package, which means it might actually be a reasonable combination.

    As I’ve said before, it took a long time to get into this position, and will take time to get out.  There are no magic solutions, but there are modest and reasonable solutions available that can work over the long term.

    Comments?

    • Steve__T

      Wonderful Ideas! Well thought out, I don’t like the idea of messing with SS, but something has to be done I would rather congress put back what they’ve taken out over time with interest, wishful thinking I know, but if I had a wish, I wish you were working in the WH to help with this.

      • hennorama

        Steve – Thank you for your kind words and wishes.

        A measure of thought went into this combinaton of ideas, in an effort to craft a package that would include a mixture of items that would be palatable to one side or both sides, as well as ideas that might be hated by one side or both.

        This would allow both sides to declare victory and save face with respect to their supporters. It would also give both sides something to criticize, which would keep the political punditry busy and provide plenty of fodder for the blogosphere, talk radio, and televised political opinion shows.

        Oh yeah … as a bonus, it might actually resolve the immediate fiscal crisis, too.

    • JGC

      I have a problem with the means testing of Social Security and Medicare, because these were set up to be programs that every working person contributes to, and can expect to be waiting for them at the end of their working life.  I totally agree that Warren Buffett  and Charles Koch and Donald Trump and Jeff Bezos, etc.  do not need federal support from these programs.  But to remove them as beneficiaries of a program that was set up as the underpinning for every working person, hmmm… Then it just becomes another tax.  And another way of separating them from us.  

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Yep. Means testing is just another way of dragging SocSec and Medicare into “look what those lazy mooching others are getting with your tax dohlarz“.

        The push to get Dancin Dave Gregory, and every “resonable” person inside the Beltway, on board is telling.

      • hennorama

        JGC – thanks for your response. I appreciate your views.

        Means-testing Social Security and Medicare is only logical. The original intent of Social Security was to provide income support to the old, the blind, and “dependent and crippled children.” In other words, people who had few economic opportunities at the time the Act was enacted.

        Here’s the Preable to The Social Security Act (Act of August 14, 1935) [H. R. 7260]:

        “An act to provide for the general welfare by establishing a system of Federal old-age benefits, and by enabling the several States to make more adequate provision for aged persons, blind persons, dependent and crippled children, maternal and child welfare, public health, and the administration of their unemployment compensation laws; to establish a Social Security Board; to raise revenue; and for other purposes.”

        Source:http://www.ssa.gov/history/35actinx.html

        The original title of the bill was “The Economic Security Act,” which is similar to the name of the committee that drafted the proposal – the Committee on Economic Security. At the time, the term “social security” included unemployment insurance and other sorts of welfare payments, which are included in the Act. That may explain the name change.

        Remember too that means-testing does not mean a permanent exclusion from benefits, since it would no doubt be an annual test, similar to the way Medicare premiums are currently means-tested – those with higher income pay higher Medicare premiums.

        There are arguments on both sides, each of which have merit. On balance, IMO, means-testing makes sense.

        Various sources related to this topic:

        http://www.ssa.gov/history/termorigin.html

        http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/social_security.html

        http://www.heritage.org/issues/retirement-security/social-security

  • jimino

    No mention of United States of Subsidies series in the New York Times which identifies where close to half of your state tax dollars go:  Crony-capitalist corporate welfare recipients. 

    The “free market” is definitely working for those with the proper government connections.

    • JGC

      It was an excellent series.  I was gobsmacked to see my state, Pennsylvania, gives up a total of $5-billion (yes, BILLION!) in tax breaks to corporations, making it definitely one of the more generous states to their corporate overlords. (By comparison, Texas gives $19-billion in tax breaks.)  

      They have a table in the NYT.  Search your state to see how much your representatives at the state and local level are giving away to corporations. You can also listen to its author, reporter Louise Story, be interviewed by Terry Gross on the Dec. 5 edition of Fresh Air (a 40-minute interview), and Gross provides a link to the New York Times series “The United States of Subsidies”.

  • osullivan11

    interesting that Apple are gonna make more of their products in the US. Wonder how this will work and how many jobs that’ll create. Could be really good.

  • Dee

    Tom, I was very disappointed with your lack of analysis on the situation in Egypt and your guests. It contained little or no insight.

    You all failed to explore the reasons why Morsi grabbed power to begin with and what were some of the power struggles inside with the justices and military.

    Why not go back and examine Morsi own claims . They might have provided some insight–at least.! Why accept he established line outright? I find it short sighted…

    The same goes for Syria-why accept the administration’s
     claim of WMDs when we have seen all of this before in Iraq? One would think journalists felt an obligation to pu-
    sue the facts than here say from the State Dept & Presid-
    ent. Did you know many of those Syrian rebels were considered ”terrorists” in a former time. Why not go into who they are and what is at stake there for the different groups?  That to me seems like the real story & struggle.

    In addition, no government has a right to topple another peoples’ government except its electorate. So why cheer-
    lead for the Syrian rebels? It seems so misguided…..

    Some other Journalists have done a tremendous job go-
    ing back into the history and highlighting it. Here’s one.
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-nato-s-next-humanitarian-war/29234  Dee

  • Ray in VT

    I missed part of the show, and I haven’t seen all of the comments here, but any mention of this being Pearl Harbor Day?  I saw a World War II vet the other day, and boy was he ancient.   There are relatively so few of them left, and we really should have gotten a memorial done while more of them were still with us.

  • anamaria23

    In a country with 7 million millionaires and 406 billionaires who recieve a near unrivaled portion of the pot, it is doubtful that raising the tax rate by 4 % will lead to a Communist classless society.  If you and your ilk  were more concerned with the working poor needing government asistance in order to feed their children, rather  than with the “war” being waged on the superwealthy, you might have some right thinking going.
     
    And read some books, educate yourself about what Communism really is before throwing such feckless idiocy.
     
    In several communities in my town and nearby, it has become convenient, using the  1st amendment, to set up table with pictures of President Obama with a Hitler moustache and the Lydon Larouche syncophants carnival barking about our ”communist”  President.  They are regarded as utter fools by the vast majority, especially those who lived through the atrocities of the Hitler regime who was not a communist, but a Nazi who actually opposed communism. 
    Most of them do not even know the difference between communists and nazis.
    In reply to flytrap

    • StilllHere

      What pot?  Receive?  That sounds like Communism.
      You should choose your words more carefully.

      • Steve__T

         Why should she, you don’t.

        • StilllHere

          Steve, looks like you’ve started drinking earlier than usual today.  Too bad.

          • Steve__T

             That comeback is old, do you have any new material? Too bad, I could use a laugh. Since that’s all your post are good for.

          • StilllHere

            You’re still depressed after drinking?  Tough life, Stevie, tough.

      • anamaria23

        You are right, I should, especially when communicting with astute folks like you.

        • jimino

          You obviously don’t understand that a couple hundred dollar earned income tax credit for someone raising their children is a hand-out, but a several million dollar tax credit to a company is not.  Someone as astute as StillHere will have to explain it to you.

          • Gregg Smith

            I don’t know about Stilllhere but I would see them both as handouts. Who gets a million dollar tax credit? Or do you mean tax cut or maybe tax break which is the opposite. No money is exchanged.

          • StilllHere

            Yes, better to have the company, and its jobs that allow many fold more of taxes to be paid,  go elsewhere.  

            Your command of the big picture is truly pathetic.  

          • jimino

            Of course receipt of the credits is usually not dependent on actually creating lasting jobs, and studies have shown a pathetically low rate of success.  Funny, I never took you for a proponent of a planned economy.

          • StilllHere

            Lasting jobs, you’re a joke.  What’s lasting? 

            Studies, oh, do tell.

            Cities and states are trying to undo the perversions created by Democrats planned economy, do you get it?

          • jimino

            Well, lasting long enough to pay the “many fold more of taxes to be paid” would be a start.
             
            “Studies” are commonly used by fact-based decision makers, which would explain why you’re not too familiar with the concept.  And this would also explain your last, nonsensical  paragraph.

          • StilllHere

            Sorry if I assumed a level of intelligence that wasn’t there: show me your peer-reviewed studies.  

            I can’t believe the government would ever do anything that wasn’t fact-based, right?  

            Frankly, I’m for drowning the government, so do away with the tax and you won’t have to do the credit.

          • Fredlinskip

            new reply

          • notafeminista

            Know any folks who make typewriters?  How about quill pens?  8-track tape players? 

            Lasting jobs my foot.

          • jimino

            So your point is that we should give huge tax breaks to companies without any concern for the type of jobs they claim to be creating.  I disagree. 

            If that’s not your point, what is it?

          • Ellen Dibble

            The $200 probably goes right back into the economy, contributing to goods and services and household incomes which pay taxes thereon dozens upon dozens of times.  As for the corporate tax break?  It probably goes out the door to the shareholders?  Or say that money stays with the government, and they don’t pay it out. They use it to pay down the debt?  Or they use it to pay the groundskeeper at the national cemetery, who puts it right back in the economy, in the same little spin I started this post with.

          • Fredlinskip

            Man it’’s too bad Romney didn’t win. 
            The country could have been run like a large Corp.
            Company wants to improve it’s “profitability”, jobs are often first to go.
            Need to improve Americas finances? 
            Hey just cut 10, 20 million jobs.
            Nothing like some good old corporate austerity to help the long term “big picture”.

          • StilllHere

            Companies have to provide the product or service still even with fewer people, if not, goodbye company.  That pressure doesn’t exist in government.  Want to hire more people, raise taxes.  Taxpayers complain, too bad, “workers” are going on strike if they don’t get their free Viagra.

          • Fredlinskip

            America does not grow by employing fewer and fewer people. 
            As far as gov is concerned part of the problem I believe is that there will always be tension between public and private sectors unless somehow there can be found a better way to peg incomes to the economy; when economy slows, incomes drop; economy rises, incomes rise- in both sectors.

            It takes no courage to “stand for” lower taxes- folks generally like the sound of that.
            It takes a great deal of political courage to make the case for higher taxes. 
            IMO

          • Ellen Dibble

            Except that “standingfor lower taxes” began to equate to  higher federal debt about 10 years ago, and debt is no longer a mark of national daring, derring-do of the bet-on-the-rich ilk, basically.

          • hennorama

            Fredlinskip – if you ever want to make the OPPOSITE claim, “that America DOES grow by employing fewer and fewer people,” this chart (which I created to show how one can use statistics to deliberately mislead) shows that Real GDP per 1000 unemployed workers has been increasing, and now stands at about $1.1 Billion/1000 unemployed.

            The chart uses Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED).
            http://research.stlouisfed.org/fredgraph.png?g=dBv

        • StilllHere

          Glad to help.

    • hennorama

      Nor do they seem to recognize the difference between promoting community, and promoting communism.  2 letters make a world of difference.

      • Gregg Smith

        I thought communism was all about community. Silly me.

        • anamaria23

          Well, I guess we have been a communist country  going way back to Eisenhower at least, when the wealthy were  asked  to pay a much larger share than what they do now.
          Was George H.W. a communist?  Were Bill Clinton and Reagan communists? 
          Is something as humane as wanting all citizens access to health care communist?
          Even Nixon understood that.
          Communism as practiced and referred to by Flytrap was hardly about community.  Stalin was a monster. 
          How in the world equating a 4% tax increase  on those who can well afford it represents communism.

          • Ellen Dibble

            I don’t know if the stock market had a British equivalent at the time Marx was writing Das Kapital, but I’m thinking that the idea of ownership of the means of production by the people, the essence of Capitalism as I understand it — I mean of Communism as I understand it, is pretty well established by means of the various exchanges by which most Americans can own shares in most production.  In fact, they probably should do so, at the expense of warmth, good food, and sound sleep, since “capital” is guarded by the tax code much more than income, which gets chipped away at in so many ways.  The Dow Jones, it is the embodiment of Communism, in so many ways.  It isn’t established as government, but neither is the Catholic church.  It is the means by which we own the means of production.

          • Gregg Smith

            Wow, I’ll have to think about all that. I will. You don’t want my knee-jerk reaction.

          • Gregg Smith

            No, we’re not Communist… yet. 

            Actually, Hennorama’s comment got me thinking. I don’t know the etymology but I’ve always thought Communism came from the word Commune. I’ve also assumed community came from the same. I just never made the leap from community to Communism.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend a lot of time on these things but I did have the preconceived notion. I could be totally wrong but it does make sense and it is interesting.

            Communism sounds wonderful as a concept. That’s what scares me.

          • hennorama

            Since the discussion of “community” and “communism” began with my post, I will show you the meanings I intended.  The oxforddictionaries.com “US English” site says the following about the meanings and origins of the two words:

            “Definition of community

            2a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals:

            Origin:

            late Middle English: from Old French comunete, reinforced by its source, Latin communitas, from communis (see common)”
            http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/community

            “Definition of communism

            a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs. See also Marxism.
            Origin:
            mid 19th century: from French communisme, from commun (see common)”
            http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/communism

            Anyone interested can do their own homework as to the word “common,” then report back.

            Summing up – promoting community means (oops, now I’ve gotta define “promote” – Same source says “support or actively encourage” – OK, everyone?), so … promoting community means “actively encouraging a feeling of fellowship with others” and promoting communism means “supporting a political theory derived from Karl Marx.”

            Kinda different, right?  Any questions?

          • Gregg Smith

            No and no.

          • Steve__T

             How about comparisons of of the main three since Communism actually came from Socialism
               http://graphcomp.com/home/bfree/opinions/economy.html

          • anamaria23

            Your comment came up on my e-mail via Disqus.
            Communism as a theory and as a practice are quite different.  Marx and Stalin may be quite far apart, neither of which I ascribe to.
            Commune, as I know it, is voluntary sharing of resources unlike the imposed, brutal and skewed practice by Stalin.
            When you say “We are not Communist, yet,” what do you mean? 
            We are heading for a plutocracy achieved by a system, complex and rigged that is leaving the masses far behind by virtue of, among other things,  the military industrial complex, companies rewarding CEO’s compensation 300 times that of the average worker and outsourcing our jobs to achieve that end.  That is the flaw of capitalism and because
            we are human, thus need safeguards against human greed and exploitation lest too many perish. If that is what you call communism,  do not complain when the next bridge collapses or the next health epidemic goes untended  for lack of DPH funds.
            The CEo’s of major health insurance providers reap annual salaries of 8 to 10 million dollars.  I guess that is okay with you.  It is not with me.  Am I a communist?
             

          • Gregg Smith

            No, you’re not a Communist. By “yet” I meant we have moved in that direction. It’s a loaded word that I did not bring up. Now, we can debate it if you like and I can make a very good case but your comment takes my observation to a level that I don’t endorse. There is a lot in there I would take exception to. 

            So let’s back away from a knock down drag out. I see a connection between the words community and communism. The sharing of resources is a common thread through both. I just found Hennorama’s comment to be highly flawed and it seemed to be from a bit of a high horse. It’s my nature to put in my 2 cents. That’s all, I’m not screaming Communism.
             
            I may have to research the etymology to see if there is a connection.

        • StilllHere

          With income tax payment already so concentrated in the upper income, you get the feeling that the slackers and big gov types won’t be happy until the top 10% pay it all.

          Moreover, you never hear them whine about the philanthropy.

          • Fredlinskip

              Not convinced that those that have more $ than know what to do with are the best judges of where the best good could be done. Can’t knock ’em for trying though I suppose.
              Hard for me to understand how people who make 100’s of times what most Americans make some how feel it’s justified. It’s not justified. It’s a warped system that is becoming more and more tilted towards a few to the detriment of the many.

            IMO   

          • StilllHere

            Take an athlete, actor,  musician or news anchor, I don’t get it either, but these people can earn tens of millions of dollars a year.  It costs $40 to go to a game, $10 to go to a movie, $100 to go to a concert and cable is $60/month.  If nobody goes, these people don’t get paid; but they go and they do.

          • Fredlinskip

            Valid point.
             But it’s not particularly the athlete, actor, musician I’m referring to.
              I’m more concerned with those who game the system through- lets just keep it simple for now- less than ethical means.

          • StilllHere

            Gotcha, mythical creatures like a unicorn.

          • Fredlinskip

            so much for rational conversation.
            Pickles are good in India.

          • StilllHere

            People,who game teh system?  Like public pensiondouble dippers?

          • Steve__T

            ” Take an athlete, actor,  musician or news anchor, I don’t get it either,
            but these people can can tens of millions of dollars a year”
            Ever consider that they are paid by someone who makes 10 -20 times more than them?

          • Duras

            “With income tax payment already so concentrated in the upper income” … every time a republican says this (which happens a lot) they are proving the liberal’s point.  They pay the burden of taxes because not much of the rest of the country has much wealth.  The rest of the country would love to share the burden of expeditures, but as you always ignore, the top has increasingly gained a bigger portion of the pie of national wealth over the last 32 years.  Top income burden would actually had strong unions in this country, and we probably wouldn’t have to have rates on the top that would be north of 50%.  Of course, we neither have high tax rates on the top nor strong unions.  (I know the right wing says otherwise, but this is why the left ask you to pick up history books: wage ratios are at the same level as right before the Great Depression i.e. before unions got a lot of power; in the 1980s Reagan started to step on unions.)

            Lesson from American history: you shouldn’t step on unions and give the top generous tax rates at the same time.  Now from your perspective, you think that unions are strong and taxes are high, but from an historical and global perspective, they are just the opposite.

          • StilllHere

            Taxes are paid on income, not wealth.  Try again.

          • Gregg Smith

            Truth dropped with a thud.

          • Duras

            Think again.

          • Duras

            Thanks for your technicality, but incomes for the top have risen but the rest of the country has stagnated.  Even with the Bush Tax Cuts, average income decreased $2,000 before the recession while top income increased.  Poverty also increased before the recession.  The country puts out a certain amount of production each year, and each year the money from the production is distributed across society, and how it is distributed depends upon the political economy.  Before Reagan, we had a political economy of capitalism that worked for most citizens. 

            Whatever way you want to look at it: the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.  And last week I cited a study from the Congressional Research Service that said that individual taxes do not influence job creation, but are associated to the increasing concentration of “income” at the top of the income distribution.  So, if you are in the 99%, it is pretty clear you are voting against you own economic interests.  

        • Duras

          Communism was an idea by Marx to solve the problem of labor exploitation.  He believed that an new economic system would radically change the greedy consciousnesses of some people.  He was wrong.  Single party state communist countries exploited labor just the same.  That’s why republicans and Chinese communists look the same, that’s why they both hate unionization. 

          The real debate isn’t about capitalism and communism; it is about how we treat our fellow man and how much greed we are willing to accept to be productive.  Seriously, that’s the debate.  Sharing and being members of a community is not communism.  The furthest reaches of right wing ideology is a state where there is a war between each citizen–your comment reveals shades of that political desire.

          • Gregg Smith

            That makes sense. I understand what Communism is. I was simply disagreeing with Hennorama and I still do. The 2 letters do not make a world of difference. I don’t think that’s far fetched at all. Put it this way, they are more similar than different and I do suspect they are both derivatives of “common” but I have yet to look it up. Anywho, you don’t seem to be hung up on the superficial (I think) and raise some good points. I’ll ignore the reductio ad absudum parts.

            I agree with your assessment of what the debate is about but I take it a step further because I believe we all our concerned for our fellow man. I don’t think either party or even philosophy have a monopoly on compassion. I point that out because many don’t get that far, they are just convinced the other side has dastardly intentions to the point of absurdity.

            So for me the question is how to best implement that compassion. In PA a recent study showed that with government assistance someone making $29K was just as well off as someone without it making $69K. I would argue there is nothing compassionate about that. It is more compassionate to help less. 

            http://www.aei-ideas.org/2012/07/julias-mother-why-a-single-mom-is-better-off-on-welfare-than-taking-a-69000-a-year-job/

          • Duras

            I just want to push back on the reductio ad absurdum.  Of course I don’t think conservatives want a war between each citizen, but in the ideological realm it is the end of the right.  I just think you would have to deny all humanity to get there.  But to bubbles up every now and then.  The movie Wall Street was trying to show that aspect of ideology with the use of the book The Art of War.  War isn’t the same theater as business, but actual businessmen bought the book and tried to apply its principles to business, which in my opinion doesn’t really work.  While it is absurd to think that we could ever get to a war between each citizens, things like given ever citizen a gun, social darwinism, etc. derive in part form its ideological root.

          • Duras

            As you know, I have found your sources to be questionable.  I tried to go to the source of your source and was unable to find the study.  But I will also just say some general things: (1)Pennsylvania is number 2 or 3 lowest taxed states in America; (2) if you look at the welfare payouts since the 1970s, the payouts have decreased significantly and we have one of the smallest safety nets amongst industrialized nations; (3) it assumes that people have the skill-set to take better jobs (to me, the only thing that keeps people out of the “welfare state of mind is education,” people with education want to work in their field); (4) the usage of “welfare” is ambiguous and unexplained by the article (“welfare” could include scholarship opportunity for low income kids, her kids healthcare costs and she herself may be eligible for medicaid in PA). 
             
            The truth about all this social welfare argument is that republicans would never cut food stamps and welfare again (Reagan made pretty big cuts to it, but it ain’t happening again).  Republicans don’t like unemployment benefits because employers have to have to pay into it.  They will cut that but they will never cut food stamps.  They won’t cut it because they see it as charity, it is not a budget-eater, and it mollifies social disobedience.  The welfare issue is nothing but a rhetorical scheme – a wedge issue – to get disgruntled white men.  

            And I’ll tell you, republicans like to step on unions but they should think otherwise because union wages lift a lot of people out of poverty and prevent tax payers from subsidizing living wages.  For example, Walmart lives off of government subsidies: most of their employees are subsidized by the government, their shoppers often have public assistence.  If that company unionized, it would save the tax payer money.

            http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/dec/06/alan-grayson/alan-grayson-says-more-walmart-employees-medicaid-/

    • Gregg Smith

      Very true but he didn’t have to suffer the Hitler comparisons like Bush did by everyone including leaders in Congress. It should be off limits. 

  • J__o__h__n

    I don’t like the pop-up window stating the next show’s topic.  It is annoying.

    • J__o__h__n

      Stillhere and I never agree so this is proof that they need to go.

      • DrewInGeorgia

        They manged to slide a pop-up window in but do nothing about the disqus situation. I’ve noticed NPR is now running what looks to be a more stable version. Wonder if the pop-up is a prelude to annoying ass advertisements to come…

  • Michael Bristol

    The flat-earth view of the Syrian conflict as promoted by Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy and the rest has become a current Atlantic hit and lullaby.
    Not the Guardian’s  ‘The Syrian opposition: who’s doing the talking?’  of July 12, 2012  [ easily googled ].
    No democracy and humanitarian anthems in this article. 
    On Point might want to review the Bilderberg Group, what exactly it does for a living. And why a high priestess of the 
    NSC, Bassma Kodmani, was invited twice to their conclave.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think that some of our most expensive citizens are among the poor and therefore cost the state/federal government rather than costing themselves.  This probably includes the elderly who spend themselves into penury in order to qualify for government support in their last years in a nursing home, but also people in jail or prison, for whom the cost of that service is close to that amount.  If you are too much of a wreck of a human to support yourself, you are not that easy (cheap) to support under any conditions.  (in reply to hennorama, arguing the statistics about $60,000 a year paid to the poor — apiece.) To find that, search, maybe in the older buried posts for some of this, which I quote from that, which is part of a thread on the subject): “The article you linked to is simply another along the same lines BY THE SAME AUTHOR as his post from Oct. 26, 2012, which ran with the headline “Over $60,000 in Welfare Spent Per Household in Poverty”. At least that time the author, unlike either yourself or this current article, included the following disclaimer:”

  • Fredlinskip

    Reply to Still Here below’s comment- “Frankly, I’m for drowning the government…”
    I’m sure drowning our government is just what the founders of our nation intended when they created it in the first place. 
    I believe a nation “for and by the people” was the intent of the Founders, NOT a nation for and by corporate greed.

    How bout working towards a better gov, instead of constantly tearing it down.
    Just a thought.

    • jimino

      The fool went from a proponent of a planned economy to an anarchist in the space of one comment.  Something tells me his positions are not based on any sort of actual principle.  

      He can’t even comprehend what you are suggesting.

      • StilllHere

        I’m still waiting for your peer-reviewed studies that you promised.  Don’t disappoint everyone again.

        • jimino

          If you were truly interested in facts you could easily inform yourself.  Just do a Google search of “studies on the success failure state tax subsidies for business” for a start. 

          • StilllHere

            Try again Jeime.  You got nothing.

          • jimino

            Ignorant I knew.  Lazy too I see.

          • StilllHere

            You can have your own opinion but not your own facts and you’ve got none.

    • StilllHere

      Our founders were definitely not for a welfare state where slackers sat around waiting for their handouts.  

      And by people who game the system do you mean public pension double dippers? SS disability recipients with no disability? People who claim unemployment benefits and are getting paid in the underground economy? Guys who know somebody and can get handicap placards for their cars? Legislators that take bribes, use campaign funds to renovate their houses, try to buy political posts from other politicians?

      Make government better by taking the money out of it!

      • Steve__T

         Al tho I am loathed by 99% of your post, these are the things I can agree 100% on. Wow who would a thunk it.

  • Fredlinskip

    .

  • Tyranipocrit

     ”You talk about a cliff, it’s extremely sudden and the second you
    step off the edge you plunge to your death. But that’s not going to
    happen once you step over the edge of the corner of 2012 and 2013. We’re
    not going to fall off anything.”

    Taxes will go up so people take home less of their income,
    and Congress will have to find spending cuts divided between defence and
    non-defence, says Thompson.

    “But nothing’s going to change much in the first two weeks.
    It’s more like a slope or a hill, if we’re going with topographical
    metaphors.”

    A better image would be to think about dieting, he says. The
    US has been bingeing on spending and if you binge for too long you need
    to go on some sort of diet. A better expression would be a “fiscal
    fast”, he says.

    “There will be a short sharp recession in
    early to middle of next year, which is more like falling on your face
    after fasting too vigorously, and then the economy is going to grow.”

    The language is important, he says, because it can generate a panicked deal instead of the right deal.

    tax the rich–make them participate in america as citizens, instead of robbers and murderers.  Eliminate tax havens and incentives for exporting jobs and wealth overseas.  what is so disgusting is the way these people wave the flag and “support the troops” but hate america–thinking only of themselves.  WHy do they support the troops but work so hard to eliminate jobs?  because the rich have a stake in war, and manufacture wars–killing your children.  if the economy is believed to be in recession or teetering on a cliff, and jobs seem scarce, people feel afraid, and hopeless and desperate and enlist–supporting war by doing so, and making the rich richer–profiting from your death!

    • Gregg Smith

      We stepped off the cliff 4 years ago. Now it’s just a formality.

      • Tyranipocrit

        if you want to talk cliffss–we stepped off in 2001 after 911 under Cheney. We expanded the empire based on lies–we invaded countries for the profit of a rich minority–not for freedom, not for democracy, not for security or safety–that is a lie. We kill people for rich people. we manufacture wars. republican wars–the wars of the 1 percent pushed us off the cliff. A bloated imperialist military rampaging around the world murdering people and massacring, slaughtering, raping, torturing, on your taxes and at the expense of the poor. We wnet off the cliff when we stopped taxing the rich 30 years ago, 40 years ago, 50 years ago. We stepped off the cliff under Nixon, and under Reagan.

        You cant maintain hundreds of military bases around the world and expect to have any money left over for Americans, for domestic needs. The Republicans are ruin of America, the ruin of democracy, the ruin of a republic, the bane of peace and prosperity inn the world. Democrats are not much different. but at least democrats, if they had a clear majority would at least reign in republican spending on mass murder and mayhem, and would reserve some scraps for the plebs–on infrastructure at home.
        Obama is trying to stand up so he can begin the climb back up that cliff, but republicans keep throwing stones at him.

        Tax churches, temples, synagogues. Tax the rich. Tax corporations. Tax wallstreet. tax conglomerations. Tax multinationals. Tax foreign imports. Tax chinese imports and american companies exporting labor and wealth to china and other third worlds. Increase property taxes on estates worth over 500, 000 dollars. Increase taxes on SUVS, Hummers, trucks (that cant prove necessary for business or farming), tax pollluters–common people, small, medium and large businesses that pollute. Tax chemical industries. tax fossil fuels–all revenue goes to cleaning up oil spills, and green technology, tax factory farms, tax junk food, tax corporate farms, eliminate taxes on small business, and medium business that produce in america and create american jobs in america. Increase taxes on tobacco companies and cigarettes–all revenue diverted to marketing against smoking and lawyers that sue big tobacco. Increase taxes (radically) on all weapons industries. tax to high heaven all gun manufactureers, sellers, and buyers. Tax guns. Tax guns. Tax guns. tax the rich. tax the rich. Eliminate all taxes on the lower middle classes and the poor. It is as simple as that. Any ethical and moral person with integrity, a sense of justice, wisdom, fortitude, temperance and vision would agree. Those who do not profit from death and destruction–no ifs and or buts about it.

        eliminate all funding for isreal. Funnel those resources to palestine–help them defend themsdelves against israeli tyrranny, occupation, and apartheid. Eliminate all funding to foreign bases. Use that money to fortify bases in and around the american hemisphere. Build connections and support in aouth america, including venezuala and ecuador. Rebuild haiti. adopt puerto rico as a state.

        elimante nato spending. End nafta. end cafta. OPen the internet free and transparent and out of the hands of governemnt–leave it to the people. INternet control is censorchip and tyranny.

        Free bradley manning, build him a bronze statue 12 feet high in the capital. Welcome juilan assange as hero to america, ask him to run for senator and.or give him a talk show. Build a 6 foot statue in broze of juilian assange and all whistle blowers in a beautiful monument that reflects unity and heroism–in silver and gold.

        bush and cheney picked america up in their claws and tossed us over the cliff sneering and with lip curled. They hate america. they hate you. And yet republicans love them. Republicans are the ruin of humanity and our home.

        • Gregg Smith

          You lost me at “we expanded the empire” so I stopped reading. 

          • Tyranipocrit

            menace to society. and dumb

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.olson.522 Daniel Olson

    Why not implement a flat 2% accross the board federal cut. Every contract, agreement, purchase, and salary. Every check the Federal Gov’t writes gets a 2% decrease. Cant be done? Sure it can. And while this is not a realistic PERMANANT solution, it buys some time to negotiate the types of cuts which are reasonable, justified, and necessary.
    Face it. While the vast amount of money our government pays for things is WELL in excess of the value received in return, even those justifiably dependent upon the gov’t could adjust to a 2% cut . But the Gov’t doesnt care because its not THEIR money.  Its ours. And if I’m going to pay extra taxes as we step over the fiscal “curb”, I expect that the govt should do their part and take a 2% cut in their paychecks as well as the wads of cash they so generously bestow upon their special interest groups.
    What kind of dent would that put in the current estimation of spending? About 70 Billion anually, which is not a bad start.

    • StilllHere

      Makes too much sense to be done.

  • Gregg Smith

    Tweaking the margins of the tax code and cutting some spending here and there is insane but that is all I’m seeing proposed on both sides of the aisle. I see the same thing here. It’s complete waste of time and effort. Government is failing us. The last time we did this it resulted in a downgrade in credit and I see another coming. The emphasis seems to be on getting a deal but even if they get one it only means reducing the deficit by $1.2T over 10 years. That’s bupkis. It does not inspire confidence. A deal that does not seriously address the problems and signal a real effort to deal with them will only make things worse.

    The unemployment numbers that came put today are dismal. Awful. I am seeing no proposals for growth (tax hikes or spending cuts don’t cause growth). Without growth and an expanding tax base we’re cooked. And that’s just the start. 

  • lioninwinter

    The bottom line in this argument is the fact that the conservatives in congress are defending 2% of the population and requiring that the rest of us pay their share of the tax debt. The tax records that Romney released showed that he paid about 14% on 22 million dollars. I paid about 25% in the same year on about 25 thousand (my wife and I were both Graduate students at the time).

    The repub/conservatives practically deify Reagan, so let’s go back to his top tax rate. It was 50 percent. During the Eisenhower administration (another Republican and one that I can respect) it was over ninety percent. The ultra wealthy deserve to pay more and I applaud the president for standing his ground. Also, I feel that at least some of them are willing to do so! (see T. Boone Pickens)

    The republicans in congress are defending the extreme wealth of about 6 million people out of a population of around 350 million.

    • pete18

      It’s been pointed out numerous times during these threads that the wealthy pay a higher percentage of the tax burden now than they did when the top rate was
      both 90 and 70%. Given that the top 10% of income earners now pay about 70% of the tax bill, and the bottom 50% pay about 2% of the bill, I’m still wondering how not raising taxes on the top brackets amounts to having the rest of us pay their share of the tax debt. Maybe you, lion in winter, can confront what your fellow Keynesian posters have run away from, and answer this question.

      • lioninwinter

        Hey Pete, What do you pay, percentage-wise? Do you know? Guys like Romney who make 20+ million a year have gotten a huge break (See above, Romney paid 14% on 22 million by his own admission!) Are you so…uhh…I’m looking for a nice word but just can’t find one. Are you so deluded (that’s not so bad!) that you like paying more (percentage-wise) that millionaires? Or are you a millionaire? In which case, I’ll stop talking and know that you are so rich that it doesn’t matter. Peace out!

        • Gregg Smith

          Be a bit more discriminate. There is a tax rate percentage, there is a percentage of income and there is the percentage of the overall bill paid by the top. 

          You made percentage soup.

        • pete18

          I am so deluded that I actually understand the difference between investment income and regular income and the importance of encouraging investment and savings. Romney made most of his money through investments and therefore paid the capital gains rate on it.  Any money that you and I put at risk to help start up businesses, further research, build buildings, fund new inventions, sell a family farm, etc., that happened to turn a profit (a risky proposition since there are as many investments that lose money as make money) would be taxed at exactly the same rate as Romney’s earnings.

          Raising the rates on the top two income tiers (regular income) would not force taxpayers like Romney to pay anymore in taxes. Nor would it raise enough money to make any difference in the debt or deficit. If you wanted Romney to pay more (seemingly the only reason behind the left’s demand for higher rates), you would have to increase the capital gains rate. Of course doing this would decrease investment (the fuel of the economy), which would be a very dumb thing to do in such a bad economy (or a good one). There’s a reason why the cap gain rate is lower than regular earnings and most economists on the left and right support the idea of a lower rate as an encouragement for savings and investment.

          However, even with a large number of the wealthy making a sizeable amount of their income through investments, the sticky fact still remains that the top earners pay the bulk of the federal income taxes. So back to my original question, which you still haven’t answered, how does not raising taxes on the top brackets amount to having the rest of us pay their share of the tax debt?

  • lioninwinter

    What is not being talked about in this argument is the way that the “fiscal cliff” will affect higher education. All manner of grants will end and with them, thousands of jobs. Those grants provide ancillary services (tutoring etc.) and those programs will be summarily cut. As a result, students who need help won’t get it and will likely fail out. But the legislators don’t care about that because they are wealthy, guaranteed health care and pensions, and won’t be affected by the nation going over the fiscal cliff. THAT’S the truth behind the conservative “bravado” (read “cowardice”).

    • StilllHere

      Doesn’t seem like a big problem, student loans from the federal government are available for anyone with a pulse and loans can be used for anything, anything!

      • lioninwinter

        I’m not talking about student loans. I’m talking about grants that provide tutoring services that many student access.

        How about if we cut off the grants and tax cuts (the welfare) that oil companies get? The real majority of social welfare?

        Wake up!

        • StilllHere

          You can use student loans for anything, including tutoring, buying an ipod, or going out to dinner.

          What grants do oil companies get?

          • Gregg Smith

            I run into the same thing and I think even on this board. Maybe oil companies do get grants or tax credits, I don’t know. But it is clear many don’t know the difference between a tax credit and tax break. This is because all money is considered by libs to be governments. In that context there is no difference between the two.

          • Steve__T

            History of U.S. Oil Subsidies Go Back Nearly a Century

             http://news.yahoo.com/history-u-oil-subsidies-back-nearly-century-215500548.html

            An excerpt from your fav Fox news.
            http://foxnewsinsider.com/2012/03/30/should-oil-companies-continue-to-receive-subsidies/l

          • Gregg Smith

            Thanks. The fox link is about a building in LA. The yahoo link explains about write offs and deductions which are not tax credits. That’s my point.

            Again, I could be wrong but I don’t think they receive a check, no money is exchanged.

          • Steve__T

             What is a subsidy? A:subsidy: a grant paid by a government to an enterprise that benefits the publicRead more http://www.kgbanswers.com/what-is-a-subsidy/11551017#ixzz2EetSeVNf

          • Steve__T

             Sorry about the link Fox dropped it. here’s another
            http://thinkprogress.org/tag/oil-subsidies/?mobile=nc

          • StilllHere

            Not grants dimwit.

          • Steve__T

             yes grants, read a dictionary.

      • Duras

        I think the biggest exploiters of the student loan system are for-profit colleges.  You know, the Phoenix University style of schools that provide worthless degrees.  They lobby republicans and republicans fight for their needs; even Romney spoke highly of them.  If government would make student loans availible to only public universities and community colleges and let the nice private schools fend for them selves–Northwestern, Boston College, etc.–which they can easily do, the for-profit industry would go under and the student loan bubble would be mitigated.

        The republicans laude the for-profits while wanting to curtail the opportunity for student loans which ultimately curtails opportunity.  If you go to a real school, government should help make it financially accessible.  But the republicans ideas cause a host of problems: it allows bad schools to thrive and dumb down the country, it does little to nothing to mitigate the student loan bubble, and it squashes opportunity.  But what’s new with the republican party?

        • StilllHere

          (Yawn)
          You forgot to mention that they put a gun to the head of the students and employers.

          • Duras

            Are you talking about the for-profits aggressive marketing campaigns?

            I expected you to ignore the comment all together, but you felt the need to “(Yawn).”  I don’t know about you, but I attended college.  I didn’t need to take out student loans or work a 40 hour job because I was of lucky birth, but I know that colleges wouldn’t toss money at me because of my parents income.  Tuition is high, and if you are going to lower tax rates, tuition will continue to rise and we will continue to cut scholarship opportunity.  I live in Florida and went to a public school, I have a kid, and I watch my republican governor cut her scholarship opportunities, raise tuition (because only our governor has authority to do so!), the state universities fell in the rankings, in order to pay for tax cuts that didn’t work.  Granted, do the universities spend money well…no.  Do I like that universities spend money on rock gyms, superfluous buildings, big screen televisions, etc., in order to attract students to attend their school instead of spending it on recruiting great professors away from private universities, research, and creating the ability to keep tuition low…absolutely they should spend money on the more substance than on ornamentation.  But what I find time and time again from republicans is that they neither know how to direct spending appropriately nor fund institutions adequately.  Sorry, but they are just bad governors.

  • Gregg Smith

    So far I have not gotten a reply except from my conservative friends on the fact that Harry Reid is refusing to bring Obama’s “solution” to a vote. Why? Please I’m begging, why?

    He is not serious about a solution and his proposal reflects that. Please someone tell me where I’m wrong.

    • lioninwinter

      It’s probably for the same reason that McConnel filibustered his own bill. As in the conservatives in congress are pure fakes. Wake up Gregg! Your people are holding out to protect 2% (two percent) of our population. That means about about 6 million of 350 million.

      I recall that in 2004, “w” claimed a mandate despite stealing Ohio. 

      Wake up brother, they don’t represent you…unless you make a few million a year…you don’t…do you?

      • Gregg Smith

        Okay then, why did McConnell filibuster his own bill?

        • lioninwinter

          Excellent question! I think he didn’t think that any of his cohorts would go for it, but when they did, he knew he had to act. By the by, his bill was about curbing the debt ceiling.

          As a staunch liberal, I found his filibuster hilarious!

          • Gregg Smith

            So, if Obama has the same motivations as McConnell’s as is your claim then that means Obama is afraid his proposal will pass? 

            It sounds crazy to me but thank you.

          • lioninwinter

            Uhh, NO, McConnell issued his own bill and then opposed it. Are you not paying attention at all?

          • lioninwinter

            Sorry for the delay, I was cooking. 

          • Gregg Smith

            Sorry for the delay, I was sleeping.

          • Gregg Smith

            Obama issued his own bill and the Democrat controlled Senate opposes it. Why isn’t Obama demanding a vote? It’s not a serious proposal.

  • lioninwinter

    Hey Gregg, We had a saying in the Airborne that I recall now:

     If you’re scared, just say you’re scared.

    • Gregg Smith

      You’re funny.

  • Dee

    Re The assault onGaza and Netanyahu Re-election bid….

    If Israelis see their biggest problems as “traffic jams” then
    The US has allowed Netanyahu and his Right wing settlers 
    to escalate the situation in Gaza and commit war crimes as 
    a land grab in the E. Jeresalem as “a gift’ to his Right Wing 
    fanatical settler population….

    This fits with the awarding of the funds for the expansion
    of settlements in the E1 corridor prior to the Gaza assault 
    (see URL) and Salman Abu Sitta eye witness account on the events of 1948 (when he became a victim of Zionist Terror-
    ism) He traces this Palestinian land grab by Israel historic-
    ally   ( http://archive.org/details/Salman_Abu_Sitta    )

    It’s time for Palestinian leadership to take Israel to the International Criminal Court and charge them with war 
    crimes in  Gaza…Other countries should stand with Pale-
    stinians in their actions against the Zionist Regime. Dee

    Netanyahu’s government has quietly doubled funding
    for settlements, says Finance Minister, Haaretz 

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-s-government-has-quietly-doubled-funding-for-settlements-says-finance-minister-1.477204
     
    Maya Wind.. We can no longer call “an army defense” when
    “it conquers land” and “build settlements”   

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp8JRFA5wI&feature=endscreen&NR=1

    (People should speak out and make sure no Israeli 
    companies profit directly or indirectly from their 
    investment portfolios…and especially their 401k)

    • JONBOSTON

      There was celebration ( gunfire) within Gaza when a bus filled with innocent Israeli civilians was bombed several weeks ago. Those who would celebrate such a cowardly evil act are savages.  The Iranian-backed Hamas savages praised the bombing which injured 15 people. Hamas  spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri  ”blessed” the attack. This is unspeakable evil.

       Cakes were handed out by Gaza’s main hospital in celebration of the massacre. This is what barbarians do. 

      Hamas’ TV station (run by a Palestinian member of Parliament) encourages children to become terrorists , as when they showed a 4 yr old girl holding an explosive , singing of killing Israeli soldiers as a suicide bomber. This is an act of barbarism.

      Several weeks ago the TV station news reader prayed ” to Allah the exalted that we see body bags in a short while”. This is an act of bloodthirsty savagery.

      As Chaim Weitzman , Israel’s first president , wrote over 60 years ago, “The real opponents of Zionism can never be placated by any diplomatic formula.Their objection to the Jews is that the Jews exist, and in this particular case, that they exist in Palestine.”We may live in a complex world but evil is identifiable even when its practitioners claim their cause is good. 

      What is it about savages and barbarians that so appeals to you?

      • Dee

        There is nothing complex about aggression 
        and land theft and illegal settlements jn the 
        Palestinian territories. A panel of 14 justices
        ruled unanimously in 2004 Israel would have 
        to remove itself…lox , stock and barrel……

        And that is not going to change the settlers 
        will have to go just as the British & French
        and Spanish &Portugese colonizers had to
        go.  

        And if the local people have to use whatever 
        is available to them to force them out …so 
        be it. That’s part of their right to resist under 
        International laws…

        Yet, what is morally and legally wrong is for 
        the US to be supplying 21st century weapons
        to Israel to uphold such a shocking injustice.

        US Federal Laws & international lHuman Rights prohits military aid for Aggression. And claim-
        ing “defense” like Maya Wind said is bogus and 
        completely unacceptable today….

        If you don’t consider using those weapons 
        against a civilian population who want to be
        free and rid themselves of their Zionist op-
        pressors and land thieves on their property ,
        I think such a mindset is barbaric in of itself.

        Dee

        P.S. The Israeli settlers should withdraw to 
        the 1947 petition line and not the 1967 Green 
        Line as Israel was awarded its UN Member-
        ship based on that border Not ones it created
        along the way…( We should all push for The 
        UN to be suspended Israel’s membership until 
        it brings itself in alignment with International 
        law.)

        P.P.S I think the Jewish establishment in the 
        US has a lot to answer for in this world. Some
        say AIPAC worked closely with The Jewish National Fund to provide cover for Israel to
        ethnically cleanse Palestinian land and then 
        put that stolen land in Trust for Jews only…
        (Indeed, I feel they should be taken to The 
        Hague & charged accordingly ….) 

        • JONBOSTON

          What is it about acts of savagery and barbarism that you find so appealing?

          • JONBOSTON

            sick, demented garbage. Israel represents civilzation. Its Arab enemies exemplify its bloodthirsty opposite.

  • Dee

    To Jack Beatty…Stop using Right Wing rhetoric on Syria 

    On the show yesterday–Jack Beatty admitted the US 
    was boxed in on Syria…This I am glad about…The US
    has no right to declare war on another people & their 
    government to change a Regime. 

    Such a right belongs solely with the Syrian people and 
    they did not ask for this as part of their call for demo-
    ctratic reforms a year and a half ago. Yet to suggest as 
    Jack did –as a right wing /zionist option to go in and 
    “decapitate” the regime (taken it out of the palace) is outrageous aggression against a foreign power.  

    The best way to handle Syria and the most democratic– 
    is to butt out of that country’s affairs and let those such 
    as the Russians and Chinese to influence the kind of de-mocratic reforms the US & others claim they endorse…

    Lastly, such a dictatorship is nothing new or usual in the 
    Middle East as the Russian spokesman said yesterday in Moscow. This makes ultimate sense to me & many others.

    Thus Obama and US Secretary would do well to work 
    with such government leaders in bringing about reforms 
    to Syria and letting the Syrian people handle the Regime
    in their own way over time…Dee

    P.S.

    A Regime change was a Western call and it deserve to 
    fail and fall on its face today…Talk of chemical weapons 
    won’t cut it either…People like myself and others in
    peace groups & anti-war groups would be in the streets.

  • Duras

    John Boehner provided nice doublethink this week:

    When refering to closing deductions Boehner said, “These revenue increases will come from – guess who? – the rich.” 

    Republicans haven’t used the word “rich” since Eisenhower.  But faced with the reality of impending revenue increases, Boehner tried to make his plan seem like it was taxing superfluous money, while making it seem that democrats are taxing much needed capital from “job creators.”  Indeed, his rhetoric changed to the “job creator” signification when discussing tax rates.

  • JGC

    Here is what Matt Bai wrote near the end of his April 1st, 2012 NYT article, “Who Killed the Debt Deal?”:

    They (Obama, Boehner and their negotiating teams) didn’t get the sprawling deal they were after, but they did produce a serious blueprint for bipartisan reform, a series of confidential memos that left them just a few hundred billion dollars apart.  That may sound like real money, and it is, but  when you consider that the government can get some $25-billion back just by selling its broadcast spectrum, you begin to understand how bridgeable that difference is.  What’s clear now is that the only thing holding Washington back from a meaningful step toward reducing debt and modernizing government isn’t any single policy dilemma, but rather the political dynamic that makes compromise such a mortal risk…

    Should Obama win re-election he would face the impending crisis knowing that he had just run the final campaign of his life, and that he had 18 months,at best, to solidify his legacy.  Boehner might well find himself, two years removed from the Tea Party elections of 2010, with fewer extremists in his own caucus.  And for all their residual bitterness and mistrust, they would both know that they still had a draft agreement that left them about 80 percent of the way there.

  • Duras

    As I’m reading the comments today, I’m wondering how McCarthyism became common discourse in the ’thinking’ of 21st-century republicans.  How a vote for a democrat is a move towards “communism”… the “slippery slop to socialism” (catchy alliteration) came to dominate the mindframe of any discussion at all with conservatives.

    Now, I have said in the past that policies such as raising taxes on the top 4% when tax rates are already low is a no-brainer.  And I think republicans know it too.  But their ideology won’t let them give in, thus even though the sensible solution by be a policy that is a little more liberal minded (or less conservative minded) is leading us down the road to communism. 

    First off, they implicity and unawaringly admit that it would work, but they must think that because it will work it will cause people to think that a left wing utopia would work better.  This is why republicans use the “socialism, communism” rhetoric at the end of an economic argument in order to escape the defeat of the argument to something that is the clear answer. 

    They obviously don’t understand liberalism.  The main problem is that republicans have a two-value logic, an outdated mode of Aristitilian thinking.  Whereas, liberals have an infinite-valued logic which allows us to be aware of dogmatism and utopian visions and focus more on democracy and correct policy for each different situation and condition.  The Romantic Movement tried to dissolve the influence of Aristotle’s Analytics, but cultural evolutions is subject to atavism which takes the form of anti-intellectualism. 

    The anti-intellectualism started during the 80s,curiously enoughing  And it still goes on today, of course.  For example, Romney wanting to cut PBS had nothing to do with the budget (okay, .00012% of the budget) and was just an attempt to dumb down America even more.

    The anti-intellectualism is obviously a big reason for the dogmatism, and its not like communist countries haven’t trashed the humanities and used religion to dogmatize its peoples.

    Of course the conservatives on here are too old to admit they are wrong and have a honest conversation about government excesses and inequality, etc.  But we have to fight for the humanities because even Obama can’t really talk about the humanities, which is really sad and says little for our republic.   

    • Gregg Smith

      Is Obamacare closer to socialism or capitalism? How about taking over GM and installing a government selected CEO? If half the country receives some kind of government assistance paid for by the other half, is that closer to capitalism or socialism? When a leader through executive order changes the immigration laws without a debate or a vote, what is that? Did the Communist and Socialist parties show up in force to support the Tea party rallies or Obama’s “One Nation” rally? How many Republicans are members of Socialist organizations? What other President was a member of the Socialist New Party and lied about it until proof was discovered?

      These are not irrelevant questions but I suspect they will not be answered. But relax, we’re not there yet.

      • Duras

        First off, socialism is state manufacturing, not public institutions.  Let me first say that.  Second, neoliberal capitalism in not the only type of capitalism.  Third, America has always reformed industries, bailed out companies, and provided government services.  Obamacare is certainly more privatized then our current system which lets people go to the ER and the costs are spread out across society, which is actually socialistic.  I would prefer a public option, which would allow healthcare to not be tied to business.  But regulating and reforming an industry is certainly not socialism in the least. 

        Don’t get two-valued logic on me.  Government has a role in protecting its citizens, even Adam Smith says that.

        Read about FDR.  He was far more progressive and liberal than Obama, but he saved capitalism! FDR broke up the banks and selected CEOs, something Obama wanted to do but was to chicken to do. He should have done it. He should have restructured CEO wages and bonuses and tied their pay to long term success of the company. It would still be capitalism, but a sensible form of capitalism!

        Iceland, during the recession, threw 200 bankers in jail, nationalized the banks, broke them up, bailed out the people (and not just the banks), handed the banks back to private hands, and Iceland’s recovery was a success. What was wrong with that? Did it not work?

        I’ve said this a lot but you refuse to see it: we are not arguing capitalism and socialism. We are arguing the political economy of capitalism: you believe healthcare, public employment, and public institutions should look like this, and I think it should look like that. Nowhere has a liberal said that the American government should open up manufacturing plants and abolish private property. That is paranoia. But on the flip-side, republicans are trying to get rid of public schools and privatize prisons, and there is a lot of data that backs that up. These are public institutions that I find necessary, but they cost tax money. Do we cease to be capitalism if we maintain public institutions? Adam Smith says that we have a duty to maintain public institutions.

        All those questions you raise are irrelevent. There is actually a socialist party that had a member on the presidential ballad. You could have voted for him or her, but it wasn’t under DEM. I believe it was under SOC. And what are “socialist organizations” … I have a library card, am I a socialist? Name one democrat who said he or she doesn’t believe in private property? “When a leader through executive order changes the immigration laws without a debate or a vote, what is that? Well, we have laws by elected officials and our elected officials can decide how to administer the laws and were to focus our limited law enforcement. All presidents have done that. So to ansewer your questions “what is that?” I would say democracy.

        • Gregg Smith

          With all due respect I am not concerned with different definitions and criteria to determine what we are. I framed my questions not as absolutes but as a continuum. I think it is very clear we have moved towards a European style Socialism.  Moved toward, that’s all. I don’t see how that is arguable. And we know Obama was a member of the New Party and endorsed their candidate. He has those sympathies. He just does. He believes in spreading the wealth around. Obama wants a public option, he in favor of single payer. He said so but he had to bribe and reconcile out the yin yang to get what he got. He is also a progressive.

          • Duras

            So even if the move proves to be the correct policy and is slightly to the left it is a move to “European style Socialism.”  So to follow your logic, a move to “Right-to-Work” states is a move towards Chinese communism where unions are outlawed….  A move to defund the humanities is a move towards National Socialism….

            Okay, what kind of European style Socialism?  Greece, where public employment is 60% of the economy–were America to increase public employment to 20% of the economy would we be like Greece?   

            How about Germany where there is renewable energy, free healthcare, free college, infrastructure, if only we can move toward their economic model that also keeps public employment in check…..

            When Eisenhower built the highways did America become like Nazis because Hitler was the first to do it?  No.  Again, get off the two-valued logic and realize that answers lie somewhere in the middle and depend on conditions, conditions which should be measured by history and other global economies.  This is why I always say read history, look at what other countries are doing rightly and wrongly.

          • Gregg Smith

            It seems to me you’re getting into the weeds. Right or wrong, good or bad, for whatever reason we are moving to the left at a pretty good clip. That some people don’t think it’s far or fast enough simply illustrates an extreme. 

            I think it’s bad and I think the American experiment has proved to be a worthwhile endeavor to say the least. I don’t want to be Greece or Germany. Have you been there? Nothing is free in Germany, nothing. Germany’s silly move from nuclear is resulting in soaring utility bills for the public. Gas prices are through the roof. I would argue compared to America the people aren’t free either. 

            Candidate Obama said he would “Fundamentally Transform America” and he is clearly doing just that. The American people just said: “Thank you sir, may I have another”. I was really hoping he would fail at it but he isn’t. That’s my opinion and I am very concerned for our way of life.

          • Duras

            We are not moving drastically to the left, definitely not to the tune that the paranoid right believes.   Your last statement is an example of that paranoia.  Also, you really need to read history!  Both Roosevelts fundementally transformed America, for the better.  Reagan fundementally transformed America, and look what we got: the highest prison population in the world, massive inequality, more poverty, and a political system thoroughly corrupted by massive amounts of money.  This country needs a transformations, but dogmatic republicans like yourself is stuck in a two-valued logic and resort to every losing argument, “Well that’s the road to socialism,” and this stupid, dogmatic rhetorical escape rout impedes America from having any real conversation of what the political economy of capitalism should be!   Wake up from your dogmatic slumber–republicans religious stance against 4% tax hikes on the top should be the first sign of who is radical!

            So long as their is a healthy democracy things will work out, but republicans, since Reagan have pushed this counrty so far to the right that they need to supress the vote, they need to have as much money in politics as possible, they need to dumb down America to win elections, to push a political economy that most people don’t want. 

            In The Wealth of Nations, Smith writes, “The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities.”  That sums up what I believe and what most liberals believe perfectly.  You are not a capitalist!  You care more about Social Darwinism and you have an ideology more befitting Ayn Rand than Adam Smith.  Republicans need to sound less like Rand and more like Smith, and that includes Mitt Romney.  

          • Gregg Smith

            I don’t expect you to agree. We are moving left. I have not read Rand nor Smith but I have my own views. Reagan did not transform America, he embraced and reiterated what America was about. Your version of history is skewed to say the least. What I am getting from you is not a refutation that we are moving to a European style Socialism. What I am hearing is, a European style ain’t that bad.

          • Duras

            I don’t believe public employment should get over 25% of the economy.  That is pretty conservative if you look at it globally.  And as you know, I’m a pretty liberal guy. 

            Reagan was a transformational president, for better or worse.  The FDR political economy of the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, is a different form of capitalism than the Reagan political economy that we are still in.  That’s pretty basic history.

          • Duras

            Also, before Obama became president he said that he is progressive in the sense that he wants healthcare passed but agnostic about how to get it.  He prefers the public option and should have fought harder for it, but he is too pragmatic to fight very hard for something he ideally wants.    He is a pragmatic-progressive.  FDR was a liberal-progressive.  Again, you need to understand what liberalism is.  It is not the same as leftism.  Liberalism is more concerned with humanity, where as left and right is more about religion and economics.  You can be to the left and the right and try to exploit labor and care more about wealth and property than humanity.  That’s why certain times capitalism and communism produce the same conditions. 

            The real ideological divide is humanity/property.  I put humanity before property; although, I still care about property, humanity comes first.  Republicans put property first.  China puts property first, USSR put property first.  I put humanity first, but I find it troubling when people forget about property.  Property is important.  The democrat party to me puts humanity slightly in front of property although they revert at times to putting property infront.  Whereas the republicans put property well before humanity, and don’t quite realize the importance of putting humanity first until hurricane hits their state.

          • Gregg Smith

            Private properly rights are a fundamental cornerstone of America’s foundation. It’s for humanity’s sake.

          • Duras

            And name one democrat who doesn’t believe in them!

          • Gregg Smith

            Any of them that was happy about Kelo… and there were many.

          • Duras

            The Constitution says that Government can seize private property under certain conditions.  It is a rather old amendment.  What’s your point?   Please place it at the top.  I don’t see how that amendment, in any way has lead to widespread government take over. 

          • Gregg Smith

            My point is I disagree with your point about the ideological views of property and humanity. Then you got defensive over an accusation I didn’t make about Democrats. And now your talking about a widespread government takeover. I’m not chasing you there.

            We’ve moved left, that’s all.

          • Duras

            Then you should have said that you put property in front of humanity instead of making an absolute statement.  And I didn’t talk about wide spread government take over.  The only thing I said is that the Constitution actually says that government can seize property under certain conditions.  That’s not me; I’m pretty sure that was Madison and the framers who voted for it.  Do I like that government can come in and force people to sell their homes to create a new “town,” no.  In fact, I find it ironic that your boy Rush plays “My City was Gone” buy the pretenders which is about government seizing property and selling it a low prices to capitalists who want to build mini-malls. 

            I don’t think you grasp the nature of that amendment.  But there are also times when government should take over a peice of land and establish a natural perserve, like the Everglades.  Nothing wrong with that, right?

            If Government takes over something unlawfully, it can still be struck down in courts. 

          • Gregg Smith

            You are the one speaking absolutes. I don’t put one over the other, they are inextricably linked.

    • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

      The humanities you wish to save can only be saved by free people and the free market.  Last year Kickstarter provided more money for the arts than the NEA. And it was done without political back scratching and cronyism.

         http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/07/the-power-and-the-peril-of-our-crowdfunded-future/259304/

      • Duras

        Governors are cutting liberal arts at the public university.  While we can still make the university more efficient, cutting the liberal arts is a poor choice.  The free-market solution to public education is not something our founding fathers envisioned.  Public education is necessary.   And stay away from philosophies of everything. 

        Oh, and if you don’t like cronyism or what I call corruption, then vote for the politicians who fight to get it out of politics instead of the ones who fight to get as much money as possible into politics.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          I’m of the same mind for any GOP gov who wants to “reform education” as “reform SocSec”: Run, don’t walk, away. And hold onto one’s wallet.

  • hennorama

    I hate to keep repeating this, but this focus on only Federal Income Tax (FIT) misses the larger picture of overall taxation.  TOTAL taxes include state, local, sales, payroll, excise taxes, corporate taxes, estate taxes, etc.  When one examines the TOTAL tax vs. income picture, there are only modest differentials between the shares of TOTAL taxes paid vs. TOTAL income shares:
     
    Here’s the data for the shares of TOTAL taxes paid vs. income, by quintile:
    Lowest 20%: TOTAL Tax:  2.1%  TOTAL Income  3.4%
    Second 20%: TOTAL Tax:  5.3%  TOTAL Income  7.0%
    Middle 20%: TOTAL Tax: 10.3%  TOTAL Income 11.4%
    Fourth 20%: TOTAL Tax: 19.0%  TOTAL Income 18.7%
    Top 20%:    TOTAL Tax: 63.1%  TOTAL Income 59.6%
     
    There is some progressivity to the overall picture, but it is not enormous. This is due to the fact that State, Local, payroll, and sales taxes tend to be regressive, which counters much of the progressivity of FIT.
     
    Any counterarguments?  Sources:
     
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/the-taxes-americans-really-pay-in-two-graphs/2012/04/16/gIQA6o4yLT_blog.html
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304356604577338122267919032.html

    • OnPointComments

      It would be interesting and informative to know how these computations were made.

    • pete18

      The payroll tax is specifically targeted for Social Security so it can’t be mixed into the argument, lock box and all that.  It isn’t meant to be a source for general revenue.

      State taxes rates are controlled by the 50 states and are meant to generate revenue for local spending. The feds cannot set a rate to help offset the disparities of total tax burdens set by spending junkies like California and New York. That would probably be unconstitutional and completely unfair to states who set fair rates for their constituents. It is up to the local communities to take care of the inequities of their tax systems.
       

      • hennorama

        pete18 – TY for your response. I understand and respect your views.

        While it might be nice to have a “lock box” for Social Security, such a thing does not exist. Payroll taxes (for both SS and Medicare) are collected, then immediately spent by the US government. Regardless of whether or not they are “meant to be a source for general revenue,” the fact remains that when Social Security payroll tax revenues and other income exceed benefits paid (as has been the case for more than 35 years), the balance is not saved; it is spent immediately. A record of the surplus is kept, called “trust funds.” They currently are valued at about $2.7 Trillion.

        See:http://www.ssa.gov/oact/progdata/assets.html

        In addition, since not everyone who pays payroll taxes receives benefits, they are definitely taxes and not assets “owned” by any individual.

        My point in repeating this Total Taxes Paid vs. Income info over and over is that a focus on only the Federal Income Tax (FIT) misses the big picture. This is true not only when discussing “tax fairness” but also when discussing funding the US government, since FIT revenue is less than half of all Federal revenues.

        Thank you again for you response.

        • pete18

          It’s true that the feds have been raiding Social Security for a long time but the trust funds aren’t ready cash surpluses, they are debts that the government owes to itself. The only way payment can be made on them is to borrow money or raise taxes.
          Social Security and Medicare do need reforming but that is still a separate issue
          from general revenue. Those IOUs still go to individuals based on a rough equivalent to what they paid in so they can’t be mixed into general revenue, which has no such individualized accounting.

          I do think, and so do most of the players in the Republican party, that means testing
          upper income earners on benefits is a good idea as part of its reform.

          Are you conceding that state taxes can not be part of the formula for federal tax fairness? You didn’t mention it in your response.

          • hennorama

            pete18 – TY for your thoughtful reply. I respect and understand your views.

            Without getting further into the weeds discussing specifics of Federal and other taxation, and/or Social Security and Medicare, my main point is that a wider view of all taxes paid by various income groups shows a fairly reasonable proportionality in the shares of both the taxes paid and the income of each group.

            Why do those with higher incomes care most about Federal (and most state) income taxes? Because these taxes tend to be progressive. Why do those with lower incomes care most about payroll, sales, excise and other taxes? Because those taxes tend to be regressive. Including both in the discussion of “tax fairness” promotes a more balanced discussion, IMO. I realize this is primarily a discussion of the Federal “fiscal cliff,” but I’m simply trying to expand the perspective.

            I agree completely as to means-testing of SS & MC, and have said so in a post titled “Fiscal Cliff” Ideas, which is posted a fair bit below. Thanks again for your thoughtfulness and for the time and effort put into your reply.

    • OnPointComments

      Two reports came to mind as I was pondering how the computations in the chart you presented might have been made.
       
      In testimony before the US Senate Committee on Finance in May 2011, Scott Hodge discussed “how much families at various income levels paid in taxes versus how much they received in spending benefits.  The results of this analysis show that federal tax and spending policies are very heavily tilted to the poor and middle-class, even before considering the Obama administration’s major policy initiatives such as health care reform.  Overall, the study found that in 2010, the bottom 60 percent of families—those earning up to about $86,000—got more in federal spending benefits than they paid in taxes. By contrast, the top 40 percent of families paid more in taxes than they received in federal spending benefits.”
       
      I read a July 2012 report by Gary Alexander, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, titled “Welfare’s Failure and the Solution” that included a chart showing that a single mother earning $29,000, plus entitlement benefits, is better off financially than a single mother earning $69,000 without entitlement benefits.  The report points out that the welfare system as it is now disincentivizes becoming self-supporting. 
        
      These two reports caused me to wonder if “Total Income” in the chart you presented includes transfer payments (such as welfare and other benefits), or is simply income reported on the tax return.  If it is only income reported on the tax return, it seems to me that it would skew the computation.  As one example, the tax return income of higher quintile individuals includes the money they earn and then spend for housing, but the tax return income of the lower quintiles may not include this if housing is provided to them or subsidized by the government; the same could be said for food, medical bills, and other benefits provided to lower income households by the government.  I’m not begrudging the benefits provided to lower income households, but merely pointing out that tax return income may not provide a valid computation without taking these items into account.

      • hennorama

        OPC – thank you for your responses. I respect your views and appreciate your thoughtful comments.

        It’s no surprise that the bottom 3 quintiles receive more in Federal benefits than they pay in – that’s pretty much the point of progressive taxation combined with social programs that tend to benefit those who have lower incomes. This corresponds with the data I cited – the bottom 3 quintiles pay a lower share of Total taxes vs. their share of Total income.

        As to the source of the data – it’s from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) tax model, April 2012. Let’s just say they take an enormous number of factors into account in their modeling. You can find more on their Microsimulation Tax Models and methodology here:

        http://www.itep.org/about/itep_tax_model_simple.php

        http://ctj.org/ITEP/about/itep_tax_model_full.php

        A brief scan of the ITEP methodology found nothing regarding transfer payments, as expected, since this is a discussion of income and other taxes, and such transfer payments (excluding Social Security and Unemployment compensation) are not subject to taxation. It does, however, include information not available on tax returns, and appears to be exceptionally comprehensive.

        One request – could you provide links to the sources/reports you discussed? Many thanks, and thanks again for your thoughtful responses.

        • OnPointComments

          Thank you for the data links.
           

          I agree that it looks like “Total Income” in the chart is primarily income from tax returns, or income that would be on tax returns if one was required. It seems to me that for a comparable analysis of the tax burden each quintile bears, the denominator should be the total value of money, goods, and services provided to a person, whether for working or for not working, not just the amount that makes it on to a tax return, otherwise the tax burden computation is flawed. A good example is the one cited by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. My guess is that for both households mentioned, the computation in ITEP’s table likely assumes that both households pay 7.65% payroll tax, when in fact more than half of what the household on welfare receives is not subject to the payroll tax. For that matter, it is not subject to any tax, effectively lowering the federal and state income tax burden rate for the household on welfare.
           

          Admittedly the calculations in the ITEP table are complex, and I know the table information is from 2007, but it looks to me like the information in the table doesn’t come close to the IRS tax return information for 2009 in some cases. For example, the table states that for the bottom 80%, the share of taxes is 36.7%; the IRS says that for the bottom 75% (a 5% difference), the share of federal income taxes is 12.7%. It is hard to believe that the difference in the 80% quintile vs. 75% quintile, plus other taxes, plus 2007 vs. 2009, could account for a 24% difference. But maybe it does, who knows. In my opinion, it’s a stretch to say as ITEP does that renters pay property taxes just as homeowners do; renters pay rent, not property taxes. The ITEP report I read discussed its calculation of the reduction in property taxes for the “better-off group” because this group itemizes deductions, yet ITEP passes on a similar calculation for renters’ “property taxes” even though those taxes are deducted on the landlord’s tax return. ITEP also discussed its calculation to show a reduced sales tax burden for upper income groups because a portion of the group’s income is put into savings, yet there was no discussion of increasing the sales tax burden for the group when the money is taken out of savings and spent. Interesting. It seems odd that ITEP goes through these complex calculations to allocate property taxes, corporate taxes, excise taxes, etc. to individuals, yet doesn’t bother to account for nontaxable income sources or calculate tax increases or reductions across all groups.
           

          Finally, I could go on and on, and probably have, but it’s illuminating where ITEP draws the line in its calculations. In rent-controlled districts, ITEP doesn’t count the foregone rental income due to rent controls as a tax paid by the landlord, nor as income to the renter, but it has this effect. In my opinion, the ITEP report looks like a predetermined conclusion in search of data to support the conclusion. I’m surprised ITEP didn’t throw in state lotteries as a tax on the poor; or maybe it did, I couldn’t tell.
           

          “Welfare’s Failure and the Solution” http://www.scribd.com/doc/114628958/welfare-failure 
           

          “Is the Distribution of Tax Burdens and Tax Benefits Equitable?” http://taxfoundation.org/article/distribution-tax-burdens-and-tax-benefits-equitable-testimony-scott-hodge-us-senate-committee

          • Gregg Smith

            You are absolutely correct. It’s too bad Romney’s comments on the 47% were so exploited. He was conflating the 47% who don’t pay taxes, the 47% who receive benefits and the 47% that would not vote for him no matter what but the issue was an important one. There is one person on disability for every 16 or so people working. I don’t believe we are that disabled. I don’t believe everybody who gets food stamps has to have them. The PA thing is not getting enough attention either. The numbers are huge and the paradigm has shifted. 

          • hennorama

            OPC – YW, of course; thanks to you for your thoughtful response, and the links provided.

            It would be nearly impossible to quantify “the total value of money, goods, and services provided to a person,” without restricting the sources of the “money, goods, and services provided.” My guess is that you meant to say “money, goods, and services provided to a person [by the government]. This too is a very wide category, and would lead right back to the “You didn’t build that/We did build it” controversy. I have no desire to relitigate that morass.

            Choices are made in all studies. ITEP laid out their methodology and choices for all to see. You may have made different choices or used different methods. Fair enough.

            Remember that the ITEP data is for ALL taxes, not just FIT, so their data sets are not comparable to IRS FIT data. As to the “pass-through” assumption that renters pay property taxes, one could make a similar argument about Federal corporate taxes and how they pass through to various income groups, notably the highest income groups, and whether they are actually paid by consumers or the shareholders.

            These arguments go back for decades. I found a study from May 1960 (yes, 1960) by “The Tax Foundation” titled “Allocation of the Tax Burden by Income Class” which discusses the various difficulties involved in these studies:

            http://taxfoundation.org/sites/taxfoundation.org/files/docs/pn45.pdf

            Similar studies show the history of “measuring the tax burden” and how difficult it is to do so:

            http://www.nber.org/chapters/c5981.pdf

            One thing that I find noteworthy is that I see no data or comprehensive studies to support the counterargument. My point that there is not an enormous difference between each group’s share of taxes paid to their share of income is undisputed. The New York Times recently studied the topic, and found that Total Tax progressivity has DECREASED. They say “the distribution of the tax burden has become less progressive.”

            Source:http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/11/30/us/tax-burden.html

            Where are the studies and data from Heritage, AEI, Cato or Hoover? The absence of such studies and data is puzzling, unless they have long since conceded the point.

            I’ll peruse and respond to the linked articles at a later time. Thank you again for your well-considered response.

      • Gregg Smith

        I read the same data from PA, it’s amazing. Nothing good comes from practices like that.

  • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

    Why is it that there are only commenters from the extreme Pro- Big Government side on this program?  Would not this audience like to know what members of the Tea Party Movement think about these issues?  

    • StilllHere

      They probably have jobs.
      No, not most of them.

    • davecm

      NO RWB,
      This audience does not want to hear from the fiscal sane.
      They are, to big government as a drunk is to alcohol, to hooked to care. They are being herded into dependency.

    • Mike_Card

      Who are you and why do you seem to think nobody else knows where Faux Noise lives?

  • davecm

    Newsflash!!!
    News you probably did not hear on the liberal news stations??

    “Abdullatif Aldosary, a resident of Coolidge, Ariz., was charged with damaging a federal building with explosives and felony weapons possession, according to the Phoenix New Times. The explosion occurred on Nov. 30 at approximately 8:15 a.m. Witnesses said a device was detonated behind the Social Security Administration building in Casa Grande.”  
    “The FBI said a powerful explosive known as RDX was used in the attack. Phoenix New Times said investigators found a cache of documents in Aldosary’s house that included materials and instructions for making RDX”

  • JGC

    OK, here is more insight into the fiscal cliff negotiations. We all know Obama quit cigarettes about 5 years ago, as he was starting his run for the Presidency.  But Boehner enjoys his smokes, and really thrives on the temporary mellowness that cigarettes throw his way.  Even if he doesn’t partake within Obama’s airspace, we all know the aroma of a dedicated smoker.  Could this be a hindrance to budget negotiations? Is Obama surreptitiously snorting the enticing aroma of Marlboro Country while Boehner is trying to insinuate dropping the mandate in Obamacare?  Does Obama find this irritating or  maddening?  Does Obama still need to chew on more Nicoret during budget negotiations, and should Boehner step into a Febreze chamber before entering the White House?   
     

  • Gregg Smith

    Income is a choice.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      So is ignorance, some of the time.

      Neither is a choice for everyone all of the time.
      If you’re willing do things that are immoral, depraved, or downright illegal I suppose your statement could be true. Guess I’m the only one who thinks it is a better solution to drop out of society than it is to sell what might have once resembled a soul in the pursuit of profit.

      • Gregg Smith

        The current debate assumes people have no control at all in establishing what they are worth in the marketplace of ideas, skills and efforts. They do, someone needs to point that out from time to time. The notion that people are chained to whatever station in life they were born into is highly insulting.

        I know it sounds crazy but people can be successful legally, ethically and righteously. They can benefit communities. They can be charitable. They can pay bookoos in taxes to buy food stamps for the needy. They are a blessing and the majority. 

    • hennorama

      Please provide some evidence of the factual or truthful basis of your statement – “The current debate assumes people have no control at all in establishing what they are worth in the marketplace of ideas, skills and efforts.”

      Use all of your “ideas, skills and efforts,” then report back, OK?

      I’m not trying to be argumentative or a smarta**, but that is one very large assumption, for which you provide no basis.

      • Gregg Smith

        Do you question whether the current debate has that assumption or do you question that people are not chained to their salary? I’m not sure what you want.

        Who determines what an individual is worth in the marketplace of ideas, skills and efforts if it isn’t the individual?

        • hennorama

          Gregg – thank you for responding. I appreciate you taking the time to do so, and respect your views.

          You have stated that “The current debate assumes …” your stated assumption. Please demonstrate that “the current debate” makes any such assumption. If you wish to demonstrate the truth of your stated assumption, feel free to do that as well.

          Otherwise, your statement could be characterized as “assuming facts not in evidence” about either or both points. Thanks again for your response.

          • Gregg Smith

            I am flabbergasted. It’s the basic tenet of liberalism. I would refer you to Drew’s reaction to my comment. 

            Just so we’re clear, are you agreeing that income is a choice? If not then there’s your proof. 

          • hennorama

            This is not “Jeopardy” so your answer need not be in the form of a question. Still waiting for any evidence of EITHER point you made in the previously referenced statement.

          • Gregg Smith

            The evidence is that you believe income is not a choice. We had the occupy movement, what was that debate about? It was about those poor helpless victims who chose not to have money. If their  income was a choice they would not be asking for others money. Why the fuss over Romney’s 47% thing? Because those people can’t help it if they are too poor to pay taxes.

            I don’t now where you’ve been.

          • hennorama

            That’s rich, Gregg. Now you say “the evidence” related to the factual basis of YOUR statements is MY supposed belief that “income is not a choice” (whatever THAT means). This is comical, as I have expressed no opinion or “belief” on the topic.

            I left alone your 4 word statement “Income is a choice” due to its lack of both meaning and clarity. My comments simply challenged the basis of your further statements on the topic. I merely wanted you to show how the statements you made, and the points within said statements, are factual, true, or have any basis whatsoever. This you did not do, which is perfectly fine with me. But I find your logic to be circuitous, and your assumptions to have no basis.

            As to your initial “Income is a choice” statement – it has a profundity level equal to “Grease is the word.” Both 4 word statements are equally inane, and have little meaning on their own without further explanation and expansion.

            One might be well-advised to not state assumptions without basis, especially as to the views of other posters. Your comments lead one to believe that you know my personal views or beliefs before they are expressed, and that you know my political philosophy. You do not.

          • Gregg Smith

            You refused to answer so I assumed and gave you an opportunity to deny. So if the comment “income is a choice” is in your opinion “inane” then my assumption was correct.  

            Please give me evidence that your opinion is correct. Silly request, huh?

          • Gregg Smith

            Income is a choice.

          • hennorama

            My comments as to the advisablity of making assumptions stand, as do my comments as to the inanity of your initial “Income is a choice” statement. No further comments are necessary.

          • Gregg Smith

            Nary a rebuttal. If you say it’s inane then it must be so.

  • hennorama

    One can hear an informed outsider’s view of the US economic situation, and the “fiscal cliff,” from Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF.  She spoke to CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union” today.  Regardless of your opinions on Christine Lagarde or the IMF, it is instructive to get a view from outside the Beltway.

    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/12/09/lagarde-zero-u-s-growth-without-a-deal/

  • Gregg Smith

    Mary Matalin and I do not hold Paul Krugman in high regard:

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/mary-matalin-slams-paul-krugman-are-you-an-economist-or-a-polemicist/

    A few weeks ago she told him this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfjNNBfRmwQ

    Bravo.

    • pete18

       The answer to Mary’s question: “Polemicist.”

      I loved Will’s response to Krugman, “I’ve yet to hear

      you describe anyone who disagrees with you as being anything other than a knave, corrupt or a corrupt knave.”

      Honest disagreements or real economics don’t seem to exist in the professor’s world.
       

  • pete18

    Interesting reality for those who are asking for a return to the Clinton rates for the upper brackets; the rich paid less of the tax burden under the Clinton rates than under Bush’s.

    ” Before leaping back to the old
    top rate, we should ask an important question: “fair share” of precisely what?
    Presumably we want the rich to shoulder more of the tax burden. The
    Clinton-era top rate of 39.6 percent applied to income taxes; the Bush
    policy lowered this rate to 35 percent. But Figure 1 shows that, even
    though the top income tax rate went down, the top 10 percent of
    taxpayers ended up paying a higher share of income taxes after the Bush “tax cuts.”
    That history (available from the Tax Foundation)
    begs two questions. First: is it wise to assume that a feel-good
    increase in the top tax rate will really extract a higher share of the
    total taxes from the top earners? If so, by all means, let’s proceed —
    but we should at least understand that recent history doesn’t
    necessarily support our case. Second: just what is a “fair share”? The
    top 10 percent of income tax payers paid 64 percent of the burden when
    Clinton left office, and they are paying significantly more of
    the burden today — so if they’re not paying their “fair share” yet,
    they were even further away from paying their “fair share” under
    Clinton.

    What, then, is the “fair share” of the top income tax payers: 80
    percent of the total? 90 percent? 100 percent? If we don’t define “fair
    share,” we can never know whether we’ve reached — or unfairly overshot —
    the goal.”

    http://www.american.com/archive/2012/december/the-lefts-flip-flop-on-the-bush-tax-cuts

    Excellent question, any of the tax the rich proponents want to answer it?

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