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4101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: October 25, 2011, 11:31:14 PM
Some rough math: A 5% on all personal income ($12trillion) raises 600 billion, but spending is 3.6 trillion.  We need about twice that plus the payroll tax, corporate etc just to get to current revenues.  If we have to exempt the lowest incomes, in Perry's terms that means 12,500 x 300 million people, almost 4 trillion of untaxed income, or a 15% rate required.  Revenues lost to mortgage interest, property taxes and charitable deductions is how the flat rate with those exclusions needs to be close to 20%.  No proposal will pass unless it gets us on a static analysis basis at least to current revenues.  Then the growth it unleashes can start to close off the 40% gap with current spending. 

Voters won't trust Republicans 10 seconds to make anything including the deficit worse.

This is the tax thread, but a big part of the new confidence, new hiring and new economic growth needs to come out of a comprehensive regulatory overhaul as well.
4102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: October 25, 2011, 11:12:09 AM
Crafty, With all respect it would be nice if Neal Boortz would address the objections raised instead of name calling critics like me - 'sniper', 'Stockholm Syndrome'. I raised 11 objections on the board to the Fair tax that in my view have not been answered.  I would be happy to update them and re-post.

Obamites must love the in-fighting among their opposition.  The tea party gained steam at least here I think when it switched from a 'tax cut rally' to a cut-spending-first movement.  Cain has articulated that better than almost anyone - it is about the role of government.  Yet we are unable so far to make 'cuts' below a 5% increase.  Going to an all consumption based tax makes sense to me if we were given the luxury of starting over or if we were somehow able to now reduce the federal tax and spend burden to roughly single digits.  We aren't close to getting even 40-50% of the people, much less 75% of the people (rough numbers to get a constitutional amendment) to agree to permanently ending all taxation on income.  Meanwhile we have a country to rescue.

Fair tax is not on the ballot, the 9-9-9 is.  I know that Cain favored the FAIR tax when he was running for nothing or gaining no traction when he did, but I don't know why, Crafty, you think he is still aiming there.  He made his own calculation that it isn't politically do-able and that is when his candidacy leaped forward. 

CCP,  Your 5% number for federal tax burden...hmmm, I'm with you and maybe 2 other people but try having your congressman and senators propose those specific cuts and see how far it goes.  Gingrich offers a 15% optional flat tax rate.  The reason I predicted 20% for Perry is that people want to keep the mortgage deduction, the property tax deduction and the charitable contributions deduction.  20% is the marginal rate AFTER $50,000 is free and clear for a family of 4. That is pretty low considering that Obama is at twice that with a 39.6% rate not counting the removal of FICA caps and new taxes including 'stimulus' deals and Obamacare surcharges.

Cain with a retailing background knows the magic of nines, making his rates sound low.  Problem is that we don't need to sell the producers on producing when they are allowed to keep 90% of what they make, we need to sell independent voters on the idea that that is a high enough rate to raise revenues, we can have a smooth transition, a speedy recovery AND long term robust growth.  We can't afford further disruption, even in just the short run.

A 30% transaction tax on housing in an economy crippled in a housing crisis isn't going to make for a smooth transition no matter what the long term holds.  A 30% tax on government purchases doesn't raise revenues at all.  Prebates don't work for people who can't manage money, have these guys ever met poor people? That isn't Stockholm syndrome to point that out. 

I like the Perry plan.  I'm not endorsing Perry now because of the dope I saw at the debates and because of some policies of his I adamantly oppose - the crony capitalist fund?!  I disagree with all of them starting with Pawlenty about the idea that capital gains taxes can be entirely eliminated (even though that would be ideal for me).  Low rates bring in revenues, and that is the purpose.  Zero tax on capital gains doesn't sound politically astute in a deeply divided electorate.  Long term gains mostly need to be indexed to inflation and taxed at rates low enough to get capital moving.  Perry says no tax on qualified capital gains.  I'm guessing he means gains that were already taxed at the 20% corporate rate, but we will see.

Cain can respond with his final offer and Romney better wake up soon and smell coffee.  Then we choose a candidate.  Either we all get on board with one or we will lose to the snake oil salesman with yet another and another tax and spend stimulus.  Good luck America.
4103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Rick Perry's 20-20 Plan on: October 24, 2011, 10:51:06 PM
My Tax and Spending Reform Plan
Individuals will have the option of paying a 20% flat-rate income tax and I'll cap spending at 18% of GDP.

By RICK PERRY

The folks in Washington might not like to hear it, but the plain truth is the U.S. government spends too much. Taxes are too high, too complex, and too riddled with special interest loopholes. And our expensive entitlement system is unsustainable in the long run.

Without significant change quickly, our nation will go the way of some in Europe: mired in debt and unable to pay our bills. President Obama and many in Washington seem unable or unwilling to tackle these issues, either out of fear of alienating the left or because they want Americans to be dependent on big government.

On Tuesday I will announce my "Cut, Balance and Grow" plan to scrap the current tax code, lower and simplify tax rates, cut spending and balance the federal budget, reform entitlements, and grow jobs and economic opportunity.

The plan starts with giving Americans a choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20% or their current income tax rate. The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents.

This simple 20% flat tax will allow Americans to file their taxes on a postcard, saving up to $483 billion in compliance costs. By eliminating the dozens of carve-outs that make the current code so incomprehensible, we will renew incentives for entrepreneurial risk-taking and investment that creates jobs, inspires Americans to work hard and forms the foundation of a strong economy. My plan also abolishes the death tax once and for all, providing needed certainty to American family farms and small businesses.

My plan restores American competitiveness in the global marketplace and provides strong incentives for U.S.-based employers to build new factories and create thousands of jobs here at home.

First, we will lower the corporate tax rate to 20%—dropping it from the second highest in the developed world to a rate on par with our global competitors. Second, we will encourage the swift repatriation of some of the $1.4 trillion estimated to be parked overseas by temporarily lowering the rate to 5.25%. And third, we will transition to a "territorial tax system"—as seen in Hong Kong and France, for example—that only taxes in-country income.

The mind-boggling complexity of the current tax code helps large corporations with lawyers and accountants devise the best tax-avoidance strategies money can buy. That is why Cut, Balance and Grow also phases out corporate loopholes and special-interest tax breaks to provide a level playing field for employers of all sizes.

To help older Americans, we will eliminate the tax on Social Security benefits, boosting the incomes of 17 million current beneficiaries who see their benefits taxed if they continue to work and earn income in addition to Social Security earnings.

We will eliminate the tax on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains to free up the billions of dollars Americans are sitting on to avoid taxes on the gain.

All of these tax cuts will be meaningless if we do not control federal spending. Last year the government spent $1.3 trillion more than it collected, and total federal debt now approaches $15 trillion. By the end of 2011, the Office of Management and Budget expects the gross amount of federal debt to exceed the size of America's entire economy for the first time in over 65 years.

Under my plan, we will establish a clear goal of balancing the budget by 2020. It will be an extremely difficult task exacerbated by the current economic crisis and our need for significant tax cuts to spur growth. But that growth is what will get us to balance, if we are willing to make the hard decisions of cutting.

We should start moving toward fiscal responsibility by capping federal spending at 18% of our gross domestic product, banning earmarks and future bailouts, and passing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. My plan freezes federal civilian hiring and salaries until the budget is balanced. And to fix the regulatory excess of the Obama administration and its predecessors, my plan puts an immediate moratorium on pending federal regulations and provides a full audit of all regulations passed since 2008 to determine their need, impact and effect on job creation.

ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank and Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley must be quickly repealed and, if necessary, replaced by market-oriented, common-sense measures.

America must also once and for all face up to entitlement reform. To preserve benefits for current and near-term Social Security beneficiaries, my plan permanently stops politicians from raiding the program's trust fund. Congressional IOUs are no substitute for workers' Social Security payments. We should use the federal Highway Trust Fund as a model for protecting the integrity of a pay-as-you-go system.

Cut, Balance and Grow also gives younger workers the option to own their Social Security contributions through personal retirement accounts that Washington politicians can never raid. Because young workers will own their contributions, they will be free to seek a market rate of return if they choose, and to leave their retirement savings to their dependents when they die.

Fixing America's tax, spending and entitlement cultures will not be easy. But the status quo of byzantine taxes, loose spending and the perpetual delay of entitlement reform is a recipe for disaster.

Cut, Balance and Grow strikes a major blow against the Washington-knows-best mindset. It takes money from spendthrift bureaucrats and returns it to families. It puts fewer job-killing regulations on employers and more restrictions on politicians. It gives more freedom to Americans to control their own destiny. And just as importantly, the Cut, Balance and Grow plan paves the way for the job creation, balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility we need to get America working again.

Mr. Perry, a Republican, is the governor of Texas and a candidate for president.
4104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: The Perry Plan - Optional 20% Flat Tax on: October 24, 2011, 03:17:00 PM
Steven Moore of the WSJ is first to report today that the Perry plan announcing tomorrow will be an optional 20% flat tax rate exempting the first 12,500 per person.  No one knew until now what this rate would be - although I did call it the 20-20 plan yesterday.  wink  
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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204644504576651150539439350.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTSecond
    POLITICAL DIARY  OCTOBER 24, 2011, 12:18 P.M. ET
Perry's Optional Flat Tax
We are finally starting to get the details about Texas Gov. Rick Perry's flat tax plan to be unveiled formally on Tuesday. Perry insiders confirm that the flat tax will have a rate of 20%, and tax filers will be able to choose between the flat tax and the current code.

This means that workers won't "be forced into the flat tax if they like the current system," a Perry advisor tells me. It would also include a standard deduction of $12,500 for each person in the household.
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We will see shortly what the Mitt Romney Version 3.0 reaction will be to it.  Romney 1.0 called it "a tax cut for fat cats".  In August he said “I love a flat tax” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/24/us/politics/mitt-romney-changes-his-tone-on-flat-tax-plans.html)  He will need his own new plan of his own unless his marketing people think they can do something more catchy with the 59 point non-specific plan with no named new rate on top of the current 59,000 page tax code.

These candidates think they are running against each other.  This isn't a job fair and it isn't about them.  We are hiring a leader of the free world and choosing our direction.  Each candidate including Cain should either endorse this, or come out with a better plan, or better yet - do both.  The idea isn't to divide the right; it is to win over the people to the wisdom of the policies and save the nation.

By making it optional which I think Newt offered first, they completely remove that argument used heavily (and unfairly) against Cain that x% of the working poor will actually be worse off.  You don't lose your favorite deduction if the old code is still sitting there available with all its forms.
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Current tax code requires a half trillion dollars in compliance before the first dollar of revenue is captured,  Here is an actual excerpt from Schedule D that could also go on a Tylenol bottle: "These distributions are paid by a mutual fund (or other regulated investment company) or real estate investment trust from its net realized long-term capital gains. Distributions of net realized short-term capital gains are not treated as capital gains. Instead, they are included on Form 1099-DIV as ordinary dividends.  Enter on line 13 the total capital gain distributions paid to you during the year, regardless of how long you held your investment. This amount is shown in box 2a of Form 1099-DIV.  If there is an amount in box 2b, include that amount on line 11 of the Unrecaptured Section 1250 Gain Worksheet on page D-9 if you complete line 19 of Schedule D.  If there is an amount in box 2c, see Exclusion of Gain on Qualified Small Business (QSB) Stock on page D-4.  If there is an amount in box 2d, include that amount on line 4 of the 28% Rate Gain Worksheet on page D-8 if you complete line 18 of Schedule D.  If you received capital gain distributions as a nominee (that is, they were paid to you but actually belong to someone else), report on line 13 only the amount that belongs to you. Attach a statement showing the full amount you received and the amount you received as a nominee. See the Instructions for Schedule B for filing requirements for Forms 1099-DIV and 1096.
4105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 24, 2011, 12:54:55 PM
Tom, Thank you for that.  Yes I've read Keynes' works and my inability to follow him was a very positive step forward in my quest to understand economics. 
4106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs spending, budget process: End the Baseline on: October 24, 2011, 09:40:34 AM
Crafty on Fed thread: "A big part of the problem is that we lie to ourselves with baseline budgeting.  Until we stop using baseline budgeting for our thinking we continue down the road to destruction.

If we were simply to make some genuine cuts to entitlements (e.g. block grants to states for Medicaid and Medicare, set in place gradual increases in the age for social security) truly freeze overall spending from there and set off growth by putting in a genuine massive tax reform (e.g. 9-9-9) would could turn this around in short order."
---------------------

It is amazing that after all the end of the world hoopla around the debt ceiling panic that we find out we are still spending at a rate 5% higher than ever before in history (4 posts up in this thread).  Both sides think we can't handle the truth and brag about cuts that aren't cuts.  Putting an end to Baseline budgeting would be more exciting if we hadn't already campaigned on it, won, and passed it in Newt's Contract with America: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contract_with_America.  Ask your congressman anyone, what percentage "cut" is it to spend exactly the same this year as last!  Liberals decided years ago that to own the language is to control the direction, and elected Republicans keep going along with them.

Obama has opened the door to both entitlement reform and flat tax running with the assertion that Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.  If we admit social security is a tax and a welfare system not an retirement insurance contribution, and there is no firewall or lockbox, then it can compete for tax dollars and spending dollars with every other program.  As pointed out, 9-9-9 is one way of eliminating a direct tax for social security and spreading it all the way up and down the system.  Liberals want to do this in an additive way rather than a replacement tax; they want to end the cap on income taxed and tax or means test benefits.  Both of those moves also IMO also move it from sacred cow status to a general welfare program subject to budget restraints and scrutiny.  Meanwhile, if we admit that the rich always find away around punitive taxation even if it means to stop producing, why not once and for all accept that a dollar earned is a dollar taxed and treat all people and all dollars the same.
4107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Broadening the base and lowering the rates increases revenues on: October 24, 2011, 09:09:32 AM
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204002304576629481571778262.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

The Tax Reform Evidence From 1986

By MARTIN FELDSTEIN

Congress's Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is struggling to find $1.5 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years. This is a unique opportunity to use tax reform to reduce future budget deficits while lowering individual tax rates.

The Tax Reform Act of 1986, enacted 25 years ago last Friday, showed how a tax reform that includes lower rates can change incentives in a way that grows the tax base and produces extra revenue. The 1986 agreement between President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O'Neill reduced the top marginal tax rate to 28% from 50%. A conservative Republican and a liberal Democrat could agree to a dramatic reduction in top rates because the legislation also eliminated a wide variety of tax loopholes.

A traditional "static" analysis that ignores the response of taxpayers to lower tax rates indicated that those combined tax changes would leave total revenue unchanged at each income level. But the actual experience after 1986 showed an enormous rise in the taxes paid, particularly by those who experienced the greatest reductions in marginal tax rates.

To measure that response, I studied a sample of individual tax returns (stripped of all identifying information) for more than 4,000 taxpayers provided by the U.S. Treasury Department. Because the sample contained the tax return of each individual for the years 1985 through 1988, I could compare the taxable income of individuals in 1985 with their taxable incomes in 1988, two years after their rates were lowered.

Taxpayers who faced a marginal tax rate of 50% in 1985 had a marginal tax rate of just 28% after 1986, implying that their marginal net-of-tax share rose to 72% from 50%, an increase of 44%. For this group, the average taxable income rose between 1985 and 1988 by 45%, suggesting that each 1% rise in the marginal net-of-tax rate led to about a 1% rise in taxable income.

This dramatic increase in taxable income reflected three favorable effects of the lower marginal tax rates. The greater net reward for extra effort and extra risk-taking led to increases in earnings, in entrepreneurial activity, in the expansion of small businesses, etc. Lower marginal tax rates also caused individuals to shift some of their compensation from untaxed fringe benefits and other perquisites to taxable earnings. Taxpayers also reduced spending on tax-deductible forms of consumption.

A similar picture emerged for the group of taxpayers who faced slightly lower marginal tax rates of 42% and 45%. The reduction to 28% raised the marginal net-of-tax share of this group by 25% and their taxable incomes rose by 20%, suggesting that each 1% rise in the marginal net-of-tax share raised taxable incomes by 0.8%, quite similar to the estimate for the group with the highest marginal tax rate.

The substantial sensitivity of taxable income to the taxpayer's marginal net-of-tax share has important implications for the effect of tax-rate reductions on total tax revenue. For a 10% across-the-board reduction in all tax rates, a traditional "static" analysis implies that revenue would fall to 90% of its previous level. But reducing a current 40% marginal tax rate by 10% to 36% raises the net-of-tax share to 64% from 60%, a rise of 6.7%. If that causes the taxable income of those at that tax level to rise by 6.7%, their taxable income would fall to only 96% of what it had been. In short, the behavioral response of taxpayers in this highest bracket would offset 60% of the static revenue loss.

The effect of taxpayer behavior on revenue is smaller in lower tax brackets. Calculations using the National Bureau of Economic Research's TAXSIM model, which calculates federal and state income tax liabilities from survey data, indicate that a 10% across-the-board reduction in all federal tax rates would reduce revenue by about 60% of what a static analysis would imply—i.e., that the behavioral response of taxable income to the lower marginal tax rates would offset about 40% of the static revenue loss.

These calculations have important implications for today's deficit-reduction debate. Broadening the tax base by limiting the use of tax expenditures (the special tax rules that substitute for direct government spending as a way to subsidize health insurance, mortgage borrowing and other things) could raise substantial revenue. Doing so doesn't require eliminating any of those tax expenditures. In a study of recent Treasury data, Daniel Feenberg, Maya MacGuineas and I found that limiting each individual's tax reduction from the use of tax expenditures to 5% of that individual's adjusted gross income would raise revenue equal to about 10% of current personal tax revenue.

Combining that base broadening with a 10% cut in all tax rates would be revenue neutral in a traditional static analysis. But the experience after the 1986 tax reform implies that the combination of base broadening and rate reduction would raise revenue equal to about 4% of existing tax revenue. With personal income-tax revenue in 2011 of about $1 trillion, that 4% increase in net revenue would be $40 billion at the current level of taxable income, or more than $500 billion over the next 10 years.

The Joint Select Committee should insist on counting that revenue as the starting point for a serious deficit reduction plan.

Mr. Feldstein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Ronald Reagan, is a professor at Harvard and a member of The Wall Street Journal's board of contributors.
4108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 23, 2011, 11:00:24 PM
GM: "As pointed out in the Steyn piece Doug posted earlier, we are the brokest nation in human history and I think we are past the tipping point where we can avoid default."
Debt Clock approaching $15 trillion: Terminal.
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On the other side of the coin, total assets of the economy are impossible to measure, but one estimate is $188 trillion. http://rutledgecapital.com/2009/05/24/total-assets-of-the-us-economy-188-trillion-134xgdp/

A 15% tax on a trillion barrels of new $100 oil alone is 15 trillion.  Another flawed measure but there are plenty of sources of wealth and revenues in a healthy growth economy.

Unlike 3rd world countries, our debt (so far) was iussued in our currency and devaluing rapidly as we speak.  If we were to quit borrowing now, accumulated debt gets smaller over time through both real growth and inflation even if never paid off.  Of course these devaluation policies are form of default.

What is terminal is the attitude of class envy, class warfare where we choose economic decline and anti-growth policies for 'fairness' instead of trusting people to succeed with economic freedom, limited government and the amazing innovation and growth powers of a private entrepreneurial economy.  It isn't that we can't fix this, it is that we aren't fixing it.  Instead, after another year of these clowns we will owe $16 trillion and be one year deeper into an anti-innovation, anti-freedom, anti-production mindset.
4109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 23, 2011, 09:15:02 PM
Interesting stuff Crafty. I also look forward to the comments of others The Shedlock explanation of the difference between credit and debt is excellent.  His deflation thoughts in housing need to be considered in the context of 'all other things held constant', which of course is not true.  We are throwing trillions of fictional dollars at it all, so for the net effect, all bets are off.  We do keep the cycle alive by slowing and preventing correction and the downward cycle feeds on itself killing off jobs andl income putting even more home loans upside down or into default, more homes to sell, less income, lower prices and lower expectations, more businesses close or layoff, keeping us from ever getting fully corrected - until something bold breaks the cycle.  

Tom makes a great point that money supply and general price level are among most things economic that are impossible to measure accurately.  You can see trends in standardized measures, but you never get a complete, accurate measure.

I'm no Keynesian, but poor Keynes gets his name besmirched by these hacks. He never said run up all this debt during good times which makes a a hundred billion of two of attempted stimulus when Keynes would call for a stimulus a meaningless drop in the ocean, with no economic or psychological boost, just more monetary dilution and more poisonous debt.

The MacKinnon piece (IMO) gives an excellent explanation of why a Fed operating with no ground rules (a huge portion of the deficits is not even borrowed), markets of buyers and sellers no longer set and adjust interest rates with such a farce for a market.  Like a hang glider defying gravity for a time, isn't there always eventually a settlement of account with real market forces?

To make sense of both pieces at once I might offer this.  Since we can't measure price levels accurately because of substitution of goods and complexity of goods and services offered, we could instead instantly devalue the dollar for each new fictional dollar put into circulation.  If prices and wages were measured this way I think you would instantly see what a period of prolonged economic decline we are experiencing and how this self-perpetuating cycle is keeping itself from ever getting fully corrected.

The fix requires bold action on the 'all other things held constant' side of the equation.  Shift the economy into forward with a comprehensive, all of the above, pro-growth agenda.  The boost in jobs and income brings up the demand and affordability of the homes, and helps to close the deficits.  Then, by congressional action, tell the Fed to work on one task only, safeguard and rightsize the dollar.  No funny business.



4110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mark Steyn: VP Biden, are you smarter (economically) than a 4th grader? on: October 23, 2011, 07:09:22 PM
http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/280986/biden-s-fourth-grade-economics-mark-steyn?pg=1

Biden’s Fourth-Grade Economics     Mark Steyn    October 22, 2011
How to justify unaffordable and inefficient stimulus

In one of those inspired innovations designed to keep American classrooms on the cutting edge of educational excellence, the administration has been sending Joe Biden out to talk to schoolchildren. Last week, it was the fourth grade at Alexander B. Goode Elementary School in York, Pa., that found itself on the receiving end of the vice president’s wisdom:

    Here in this school, your school, you’ve had a lot of teachers who used to work here, but because there’s no money for them in the city, they’re not working. And so what happens is, when that occurs, each of the teachers that stays have more kids to teach. And they don’t get to spend as much time with you as they did when your classes were smaller. We think the federal government in Washington, D.C., should say to the cities and states, look, we’re going to give you some money so that you can hire back all those people. And the way we’re going to do it, we’re going to ask people who have a lot of money to pay just a little bit more in taxes.

Who knew it was that easy?

So let’s see if I follow the vice president’s thinking:

The school laid off these teachers because “there’s no money for them in the city.” That’s true. York City School District is broke. It has a $14 million budget deficit.

So instead Washington, D.C., is going to “give you some money” to hire these teachers back.

So, unlike York, Pa., presumably Washington, D.C., has “money for them”?

No, not technically. Washington, D.C., is also broke — way broker than York City School District. In fact, the government of the United States is broker than any entity has ever been in the history of the planet. Officially, Washington has to return 15,000,000,000,000 dollars just to get back to having nothing at all. And that 15,000,000,000,000 dollars is a very lowball figure that conveniently ignores another $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities that the government, unlike private businesses, is able to keep off the books.

So how come the Brokest Jurisdiction in History is able to “give you some money” to hire back those teachers that had to be laid off?

No problem, says the vice president. We’re going to “ask” people who have “a lot of money” to “pay just a little bit more” in taxes.

Where are these people? Evidently, not in York, Pa. But they’re out there somewhere. Who has “a lot of money”? According to President Obama, if your combined household income is over $250,000 a year you have “a lot of money.” Back in March, my National Review colleague Kevin Williamson pointed out that, in order to balance the budget of the United States, you would have to increase the taxes of people earning more than $250,000 a year by $500,000 a year.

Okay, okay, maybe that 250K definition of “bloated plutocrat” is a bit off. After all, the quarter-mil-a-year category includes not only bankers and other mustache-twirling robber barons, but also at least 50 school superintendents in the State of New York and many other mustache-twirling selfless public servants.

So how about people earning a million dollars a year? That’s “a lot of money” by anybody’s definition. As Kevin Williamson also pointed out, to balance the budget of the United States on the backs of millionaires you would have to increase the taxes of those earning more than 1 million a year by 6 million a year.

Not only is there “no money in the city” of York, Pa., and no money in Washington, D.C., there’s no money anywhere else in America — not for spending on the Obama/Biden scale. Come to that, there’s no money anywhere on the planet: Last year, John Kitchen of the U.S. Treasury and Menzie Chinn of the University of Wisconsin published a study called “Financing U.S. Debt: Is There Enough Money in the World — and At What Cost?”

Don’t worry, it’s a book with a happy ending! U.S.-government spending is sustainable as long as by 2020 the rest of the planet is willing to sink 19 percent of its GDP into U.S. Treasury debt. And why wouldn’t they? After all, if you’re a Chinese politburo member or a Saudi prince or a Russian kleptocrat or a Somali pirate and you switched on CNN International and chanced to catch Joe Biden’s Fourth Grade Economics class, why wouldn’t you cheerily dump a fifth of your GDP into a business model with such a bright future?

Since 1970, public-school employment has increased ten times faster than public-school enrollment. In 2008, the United States spent more per student on K–12 education than any other developed nation except Switzerland — and at least the Swiss have something to show for it. In 2008, York City School District spent $12,691 per pupil — or about a third more than the Swiss. Slovakia’s total per-student cost is less than York City’s current per-student deficit — and the Slovak kids beat the United States at mathematics, which may explain why their budget arithmetic still has a passing acquaintanceship with reality. As in so many other areas of American life, the problem is not the lack of money but the fact that so much of the money is utterly wasted.

But that’s no reason not to waste even more! So the president spent last week touring around in his weaponized Canadian bus telling Americans that Republicans were blocking plans to “put teachers back in the classroom.” Well, where are they now? Not every schoolmarm is down at the Occupy Wall Street drum circle, is she? No, indeed. And in that respect York City is a most instructive example: Five years ago (the most recent breakdown I have), the district had 440 teachers but 295 administrative and support staff. If you’re thinking that sounds a little out of whack, that just shows what a dummy you are: For every three teachers we “put back in the classroom,” we need to hire two bureaucrats to put back in the bureaucracy to fill in the paperwork to access the federal funds to put teachers back in the classroom. One day it will be three educrats for every two teachers, and the system will operate even more effectively.

It’s just about possible to foresee, say, Iceland or Ireland getting its spending under control. But, when a nation of 300 million people presumes to determine grade-school hiring and almost everything else through an ever more centralized bureaucracy, you’re setting yourself up for waste on a scale unknown to history. For example, under the Obama “stimulus,” U.S. taxpayers gave a $529 million loan guarantee to the company Fisker to build their Karma electric car. At a factory in Finland.

If you’re wondering how giving half a billion dollars to a Finnish factory stimulates the U.S. economy, well, what’s a lousy half-bil in a multi-trillion-dollar sinkhole? Besides, in the 2009 global rankings, Finnish schoolkids placed sixth in math, third in reading, and second in science, while suffering under the burden of a per-student budget half that of York City. By comparison, America placed 17th in reading, 23rd in science, and 31st in math. So the good news is that, by using U.S.-government money to fund a factory in Finland, Fisker may be able to hire workers smart enough to figure out how to build an unwanted electric car that doesn’t lose its entire U.S.-taxpayer investment.

In a sane world, Joe Biden’s remarks would be greeted by derisive laughter, even by fourth graders. Certainly by Finnish fourth graders.
4111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 23, 2011, 07:03:43 PM
Seems to me that a prolonged period of deflation following a bubble means that the asset prices are not freely correcting.  In the case of housing today, we made this bubble by artificially inflating a market, now we prevent correction with more of the same policies on steroids, forcing re-writes, blocking foreclosures and delaying properties to market.  Fixing an error by exacerbating it, what could possibly go wrong?  The deflationary period it seems to me is a result of the correction not fully occurring.  The downward expectation becomes a force of its own, just like the inflating bubble did.  An asset price correction should not require a prolonged economic downturn to occur, IMO.

That we try to cover up other policy problems by injecting more and more dollars means yes, hyper inflation is very likely if/when we ever snap out of this. 
4112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government regulations: Paul Volcker on: October 23, 2011, 06:26:08 PM
Thumbs up for accuracy and clarity.  Hard to believe Volcker was ever an Obama supporter with these views.  Everyone was quiet about the falling out, but at what point and over what issue in the Solydra Presidency did he resign or fade away?  My understanding is that they just never sought his advice.  They haven't really had any economic troubles - the unraveling of our economy into crises and government takeovers is going pretty much according to plan.

Volcker Oct 2011: “You ought to be either public or private; don’t mix up private profit-making opportunities with an institution that is going to be protected by the government but not controlled by it.”
4113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government regulations/financial reform: Paul VOlcker says we got it wrong on: October 23, 2011, 03:35:17 PM
Former Obama adviser highly critical of current policy:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/business/volckers-advice-for-more-financial-reform.html?_r=1

“This is an opportunity to get rid of institutions (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) that shouldn’t exist,”  

“You ought to be either public or private; don’t mix up private profit-making opportunities with an institution that is going to be protected by the government but not controlled by it.”
4114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: October 23, 2011, 03:12:11 PM
The increases in domestic spending alone since Democrats took over congress cost more than deposing Saddam, overthrowing the Taliban, killing bin Laden, deposing Khadafy, 10 years in Afghanistan, 9 in Iraq, drone strikes in Waziristan and Yemen, all combined? Wow! Makes you wonder how much unemployment came down in 6 years with all that pure Keynesian stimulus. Unemployment was 4.4% in Oct 2006 coming into the Pelosi-Reid-Obama-Biden-Hillary takeover.  It's more than double that now, but maybe they were helping minorities?  Hispanic unemployment was 4.6%, 11.3% today.  http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/empsit_01052007.pdf
http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf
4115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 23, 2011, 12:39:34 PM
Whether it is rich guilt or economic ignorance, Romney's inability to justify the $200,000 threshold is reminiscent of George Bush not knowing why he wanted lower tax rates.  Just what we need is another President who can't grasp or articulate incentive-based production.

Iowahowk (humor site) is covering the candidacy of a new establishment Republican candidate to thwart off the tea party insurgency: http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2011/10/together-i-shall-ride-you-to-victory.html

Murphy's Law must have chosen Rick Perry, only after he proved himself a blockhead and his candidacy was declared room temperature, to finally get a tax reform right (IMHO) with just the first two nines of a flat tax package, 20-20 or whatever it will be called.  I am very excited to find out if he will credit the forum for inspiring his plan: http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2112.msg55494#msg55494

My advice to Herman Cain is to take ownership of both plans. Cain should say to Perry: "Nice job.  I was first with a bold plan for tax reform and economic growth and my rates are lower, but I like the way you are thinking.  If congress passes a flat tax with out without a new consumption tax that accomplishes all our goals, even if it is called the Perry Plan, as your President I will happily sign it, scrap this tax code and then get moving with regulatory reform and our smaller government, larger freedom agenda". 

My advice to candidate Romney is to have his marketing people take one more look at his 59 point non-specific addition that keeps the current tax code intact.  Gov. Romney, you are running for leader of the free world.  Is this really your final answer?
4116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics, Bobby Jindal wins with 66% of vote on: October 23, 2011, 11:23:31 AM
A post-Katrina Republican, does anyone remember Kathleen Blanco or when Louisiana was a swing state?  Jindal cut taxes, outsourced government services to private companies, supports drilling. Louisiana’s jobless rate of 7.2 percent ranks below the national average of 9.1 percent.  Democrats outnumber Republicans in Louisiana 44 percent to 41 percent.  A poll conducted by WWL-TV on Oct. 5 gave Jindal an approval rating of 63 percent.  Jindal is 40 heading into his second term.
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-23/louisiana-s-jindal-wins-second-term-as-governor-in-open-primary.html
4117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 20, 2011, 12:15:17 PM
I had higher hopes than this for Rick Perry.  If we rule him out, we are down to a very small number of choices, each with their own known deficiencies.

4118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya and on: October 20, 2011, 12:08:56 PM
GM, At least he was not caught in the picture bowing.  Ghadafy was a humble man, never appointing himself past the rank of Colonel.  Had he made it to King or even Prince, the photo would be most embarrassing.
4119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Libya and on: October 20, 2011, 11:30:00 AM
Whatever happened to the policy articulated so well four years ago that we can sit and and talk to these people?

Oh, here it is:
4120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 20, 2011, 11:23:21 AM
"Folks: Tom is a serious, well-informed advocate of the Austrian school.  We are fortunate to have him drop in.  Marc"

Absolutely!

First to Crafty, I was partially agreeing with you and still wanting to draw your view out further.  Overlap or agreement with me doesn't make either of us right.  wink

Ron Paul's view has evolved from 'end the fed' (he wrote the book) to the one posted which I think is stop mis-managing the Fed, a view we can probably all agree on.  His first point though is a bit simplistic and partly wrong to me.  "Money is like any other good in our economy that emerges from the market to satisfy the needs and wants of consumers." 

Yes money has the characteristics of other goods but it is a public good with a government monopoly as much as it is a private good.  If the oil price (or corn or lumber) is too high, too low or too volatile, that screws up other industries.  When money is high, low or unstable, it screws up all enterprise.  Not only the relative price is important but also the general price level IMO.

TB, that is a great post, much more detailed than Ron Paul! I agree about with nearly all but pick out a couple of points for followup. 

"deflation can be painful, for sure, but it cannot spiral out of control."

Good point, there are of course limits to a downward movement in price.  It isn't that it would spiral out of control, but that it can develop a self-sustaining momentum difficult to break - at least that way in a couple of cases.

"The Fed was created to establish a profit enhancing bank cartel."

A muddled institution, the Fed is both public and private, owned by the member banks, managed by government appointed and confirmed technocrats.  The Fed returns its own direct profits to the Treasury other than a statutory return to its owners, yet no doubt it serves to enable profits to its member institutions. The banks themselves are also public-private entities in a sense due to the deposit insurance guarantee relationship and the all-encompassing regulation aspect.
-----
The real error we are committing now in my view comes from congress assigning a dual mission to the Fed.  Besides the function of managing a stable money supply, the Fed is charged with alleviating unemployment caused by policy errors that were not monetary in the first place.  The Fed is supposed cover for the 40% excesses in federal spending, and 'stimulate' our way through economic damages caused by regulatory and tax policies.  That doesn't make any sense.  It enables rather than soves the other policy errors, and sets up a high likelihood of new inflation coming if or when the current stagnation ends.
4121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 19, 2011, 11:20:24 PM
"Lets define our terms here.  Question:  Is the bursting of a bubble a deflation?"
-----------------
Yes, that is where it starts, at least in the case of the two examples I gave: America in the 1930s and Japan in the 1990s.

The problem is the spiral and that we don't know any easy fixes to snap an economy out of it.

In today's economy the bubble started with housing.  We don't face deflation, but the fear of it was one big reason why we have this 6 trillion plus stimulus/quantitative expansion of debt and dilution will haunt us perhaps forever.  Even with the multi-trillion dollar injection, the momentum is stalled.  Wait, don't buy, don't hire, don't invest is what the smart money is doing.  A sad state of affairs.

If bursting a bubble is a necessary evil, two questions come to mind: what were we doing that made the bubble worse than it needed to be (everything), and what are we doing now that is making the correction take longer than it needs to (pretty much everything).

If we didn't try so hard to stave off corrections maybe the expectation of continued falling prices wouldn't set in for so long and so deeply.

How does someone buy a house today if they know the price will be lower tomorrow?  They don't.  Consistently falling prices are a bad thing.

Back to you.  wink
4122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 19, 2011, 01:34:40 PM
"A VERY lively night in last night's debate.  Analysis? Comments?"

Once again, I missed it and don't enjoy trudging through after I have already seen clips and commentary.  THE clip that made news was about hiring of an illegal, not exactly new or the key to beating Obama or turning the country around.  Too bad to give the public a food fight instead of a economics lesson.

Cain now says he misspoke, whatever that means regarding making the 1 for a thousand trade out of Guantanamo.  Not ready for prime time.  Newt was the one to stay on track, they say.  Eleven more debates to go through January.  Let's get it together!

VDH at NRO:

Debate Roundup
October 18, 2011 11:04 P.M.
By Victor Davis Hanson 

I don’t think the debate will change much in the polls, and those without the money are not going to gain some by tonight’s performance. Obama surely gains when the debaters end up shouting at each other and forget about the present mess. Cain took a lot of hits that scored. Here’s a quick take.

Romney: I think he won the weird crossfires with Perry: a) illegal aliens working on his property were hired by contractors, not him personally (most recognize the difference); b) Perry’s ad hominem came off too calculated and studied rather than an ad hoc jousting point. He scored points for being above the fray, and parried all the blows pretty well. Along with Gingrich and Santorum, he seems to have the best command of the facts, and is doing a good job presenting a certain presidential calm. He is often aware that the debate is being watched by independents as well as the base. When he survives these sharp attacks, he gets better — much better than in 2008. The flash of anger at Perry was a sort of Reagan “I’m paying for this” moment.

Gingrich: A person from Mars would conclude that once again Gingrich is the most impressive in debates, especially his efforts to steer the attacks back to Obama’s policies. His above-the-fray lectures come off very well. He should reflect why it is, then, that when he does so well in debates and so often is the best informed, he gets little traction in polls — and then address that paradox.

Bachmann: She is well-informed and comes up with some strange, but welcome, takes on issues that few have thought of — like her quips on foreclosures, illegal immigration, Israel, and 9-9-9. For someone who is supposed to be wacky, Bachmann came across tonight as sensible and often imaginative. Along with Cain, she is the coolest under fire, and the lower she sinks in the polls, the more relaxed and better she is in debate — as if the less pressure, the more natural she appears.

Cain: At some point reiterating “9-9-9” or referring to his website is simply not enough. He is fearless and candid, and that counts for a lot, but without at least some detail he comes off more as a salesman. One would think he at least would make a 20-second pitch that he is trying to encourage more production and investment and discourage consumption, or articulate exactly why the half that doesn’t pay income taxes should pay quite a lot through his federal sales taxes and 9 percent income tax — or to what extent a national sales tax would, in EU style, create (or not) an even bigger underground, off-the-books economy. On too many occasions, he doesn’t answer the particular question asked or obfuscates about his past statements. But again there seems no interest in detail at all. Too many weird things about electric fences and trading captives for terrorists = too little political experience and not enough prep. His chief strength: He remains absolutely unflappable! But we don’t elect presidents on that admirable trait.

Perry: He is not the somnolent Perry of past debates, but his animation is mostly ad hominem and comes off mean-spirited. He seems to have realized that midway, and gets better when he talks about energy. Tonight: two steps forward for passion, two and a half steps back for a bothersome abrasiveness. Passion is not just invective.

Paul: He gets a lot of applause for reducing problems to sheer simplicity. But the more he talks, the more it is clear that he is a neo-isolationist. At this point, I don’t see how getting rid of the Federal Reserve is viable when fiscal discipline in the past was not antithetical to it. Fifteen percent cut to the Defense Department? All those cabinets cut in a year? Abruptly withdraw the troops from South Korea? I guess it is to be “starve the beast”: First, cut the military, and then they can’t go abroad. (No aid to Israel makes it stronger?) He can sound good on the economy, and some cuts in foreign aid, but all in all, he is simply not a serious presidential candidate.

Santorum: His is a more informed, more analytical version of Perry’s personal-attack mode; somehow he pulls it off a little better because he offers detail. He rarely says anything that doesn’t make sense. But he seems visibly exasperated, almost to the point of sputtering, that his rivals don’t reply to his revelations about their purported hypocrisies — but why would they? He needs to adopt a little more of Herman Cain’s sunny disposition and cheer up, since otherwise he seems perennially angry that the debate, like life, is not fair and his talents go unrecognized.
4123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 19, 2011, 01:19:56 PM
I have come to doubt the "deflation is bad" hypothesis.

Oh? Do tell.
--------------
I like it when conventional 'wisdom' gets questioned around here. 

One argument is that deflation is not a risk in this environment because of our never ending increases in the money supply, but that is not what Crafty is saying.

If Crafty is correct, the Fed could target inflation at 0% instead of more like 1-3%, then with margin of error in a big economy price increases/decreases might swing 2% up or 2% down averaging 0% and the dollar maintaining all of its value over the long term. 

That is only true as long as deflation is not the expectation.

Deflation has tended to correlate with lousy economic periods, the Great Depression in the US and the end of economic growth in Japan in the early 1990s are examples.  Other studies say that is not always so.  Small deflationary periods have come and gone without major damage.

The risk of deflation is really the risk of spiraling deflation.  It goes something like this: Things are cheaper, but people actually buy less because of low demand and because they know prices keep falling.  Companies sell less and make less on what they do sell at the lowered price.  Businesses either lower wages or layoff workers.  Households have even less to spend, demand falls further, prices fall further and the cycle continues or accelerates.  If or when this happens, it is very difficult cycle to break.
4124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: October 18, 2011, 04:36:34 PM
Question to all those interested in this subject: What is the acceptable range for the rate of inflation if we accept that a) deflation is totally unacceptable, b) exact 0% inflation is therefore too close to deflation, and c) that there is quite a margin of error for monetary policy makers working with very imprecise measurements and imprecise tools.

You of course don't have to accept my premises.
4125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: October 18, 2011, 04:13:42 PM
I said before but it still seems to me that whatever the underlying thinking is for the Israeli side of the deal, they aren't going to tell us.  Stratfor is holding back the conjecture they usually add that tries to make sense of things.  Makes me think (as already said by CCP) Israel is preparing for some act of war and Shalit would certainly have been murdered in response.  Maybe they are preparing something relating to security that would 1027 more terror soldiers back on enemy ground of little consequence.

CCP: "Eventually there will be war.  It is inevitable.  Israel is screwed and I feel the sentiment in the US is turning against the "Jews"."

Yes.  Not being able to count on America might actually simplify their  options, allow for actions not available when the focus is always on jumping through the international hoops of acceptance.

I don't know exactly where we are in this so-called Arab spring process, nor I suppose does anyone else.  The calm before the storm is probably the best guess.  Israeli intelligence and military strategists must assume and prepare for the worst case scenario if the goal is a 100% chance of survival.

I was not familiar with Mr. Shalit.  Judging from his photo on wikipedia I am guessing that what is special about Gilad Shalit is merely his youthfulness and innocence, symbolic of any young man lost from any Israeli family.  He was just serving his country and for that has been held 5 years behind enemy lines.  I am reminded of a comment made by Mariane Pearl, widow of Daniel Pearl, saying to Jim Lehrer about those who beheaded him - they are a "nuisance to humanity", meaning of no value to the human race dead or alive.  In that sense maybe Israel got the better end of this deal  - receiving more value in one person than Hamas is getting with a thousand.

Another CCP point: "one downside is it encourages more hostage taking"

The only consolation to that is that if they already have a 100% incentive to take hostages, it is hard for that incentive to increase.  
4126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: October 17, 2011, 04:22:16 PM
Odd that economists use such powerful words as "real growth" to describe what of course is not real growth.  It is just the formula they all accept for adjusting 'nominal growth'.  Around here most people know that we have flooded multi-trillions of declining-value dollars into yesterdays numbers.  The resulting  inflation has already occurred, does not show up yet, but is certain to materialize in tomorrow's prices levels. 

Real growth for this year by honest definition is something we will never know because we chose instead to conduct such an artificial, contrived and manipulated experiment. MHO
4127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Someone needs to find the regulatory equivalent of the Laffer Curve on: October 17, 2011, 10:05:04 AM
Regulations today are worse than taxes, worse than spending and maybe even worse than what we are doing to our currency. 

An excerpt from Steven Hayward yesterday (biased blogger) agreeing with Peggy Noonan on 'This is no time for moderation', praising Cain and goes on into regulations:

"I depart from Peggy in one respect.  While our financial structures are certainly still shaky, a much larger problem is the regulatory structure that has clotted the arteries of the economy by making it cumbersome and difficult to get anything started. Consider the Keystone XL pipeline, which would generate over 20,000 constructions jobs, and lot of other permanent jobs after it is finished.  It is going to be approved.  Eventually.  Is the long hearing and litigation process really contributing to reducing the environmental impact the project is going to have?  Surely not.  And to the extent the long review process does lead to mitigations of harms, are there any changes that couldn’t have been figured out in the first 90 days of the whole story?  A country serious about job creation wouldn’t tolerate this kind of process.  I’m convinced the purpose of the whole regulatory process today is to extort things from the private sector, and/or to simply wear out the opposition to new things before the government finally says “yes.”   We can’t afford this frivolousness any more.

As a thought experiment, think back to all the New Deal era construction projects, like the Columbia and Colorado River dams, the Empire State Building, and the Oakland Bay and Golden Gate bridges.  None of them could be built as quickly today, if at all.  The hearing/litigation process would have delayed them for years, and run the cost way up.  The replacement Oakland Bay Bridge, called for after its collapse in the 1989 earthquake, is just now approaching completion, 22 years (and three recessions) later.  Notice how long it took to let everyone have their say on replacing the World Trade Center at Ground Zero.  See the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Project No Project website for much more on this point.

So just as Reagan embraced supply-side economics as a radical move to change the economy in 1980, the big opening for someone today is to find the regulatory equivalent of the Laffer Curve.  Someone needs to figure out a way to rip out the regulatory structure by the roots, and replace it with something that delivers genuine protection for health, safety, and the environment while allows things to get built and businesses to get started quickly."
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/10/time-to-raise-cain-literally-and-figuratively.php
4128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / No longer doubting (Justice) Thomas on: October 17, 2011, 09:55:28 AM
http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/thomas-321865-original-court.html

Ralph A. Rossum: No longer doubting Thomas

In his 446 opinions, Clarence Thomas always looked to preserve the original meaning of the Constitution.

By RALPH A. ROSSUM / Salvatori professor of American Constitutionalism, Claremont McKenna College

On Oct. 23, 1991, Clarence Thomas was sworn in as the 106th Justice of the Supreme Court. During the heated debate over his confirmation, Gary McDowell, a conservative legal scholar and former speechwriter for Edwin Meese, wrote a piece entitled "Doubting Thomas: Is Clarence a Real Conservative?" Now, 20 years later, there is no doubt: the answer is an unequivocal, yes.

In the 446 opinions he has written since his confirmation, Thomas has assiduously pursued an original understanding approach to constitutional interpretation and a jurisprudence of constitutional restoration. He has been unswayed by the claims of precedent – by the gradual build-up of interpretations that, over time, completely distort the original understanding of the constitutional provision in question and lead to muddled decisions and contradictory conclusions.

As with too many layers of paint on a delicately crafted piece of furniture, precedent based on precedent – focusing on what the Court said the Constitution means in past cases as opposed to focusing on what the Constitution actually means – hides the constitutional nuance and detail he wants to restore. Thomas is unquestionably the justice who is most willing to reject this build-up, this excrescence, and to call on his colleagues to join him in scraping away past precedent and getting back to bare wood – to the original understanding of the Constitution.

The two Supreme Court justices who unabashedly identify themselves as originalists are Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. Yet, they are different in their approaches. Scalia consistently employs an original public meaning approach to interpretation.

He wants to know what the words of the text being interpreted meant to the society that adopted it. While he often turns to founding documents, he does so because they "display the original meaning of the text."

Thomas, pursuing an original understanding approach, incorporates Scalia's narrower original public meaning approach, but then widens the originalist focus and asks as well why the text was adopted. Concerning the Constitution, Thomas turns readily to founding era sources not only to determine the original meaning of the text being interpreted, but also to ascertain the ends the framers sought to achieve, the evils they sought to avert, and the means they employed to achieve those ends and avert those evils when they adopted and ratified that text.

Thomas invariably rejects past decisions that depart from that original understanding. He invites his colleagues to join him by engaging in the hard jurisprudential work of scraping away the layers of misguided precedent and restoring the contours of the Constitution, as it was originally understood by those who framed and ratified it.

Here are two examples from the scores that could be provided. In his concurrence in the Ten Commandment case, Van Orden v. Perry, Thomas condemned the "incoherence" of the Court's past decisions that rendered "the Establishment Clause impenetrable and incapable of consistent application" and called for a "return to the views of the Framers" and for the adoption of actual physical coercion as "the touchstone for our Establishment Clause inquiry."

And, in his dissent in the takings case, Kelo v. City of New London, he observed that "something has gone seriously awry with this Court's interpretation of the Constitution. Though citizens are safe from the government in their homes, the homes themselves are not." He regretted that the Court majority relied not on the constitutional text, but "almost exclusively on this Court's prior cases to derive today's far-reaching, and dangerous, result."

And, he concluded, "[w]hen faced with a clash of constitutional principle and a line of unreasoned cases wholly divorced from the text, history, and structure of our founding document, we should not hesitate to resolve the tension in favor of the Constitution's original meaning."

After a long and bruising confirmation hearing and a close Senate vote, Thomas arrived at the Court as damaged goods. And, given the liberal bias of the legal professoriate, law review articles about him during his first decade of service were unrelentingly hostile and derogatory. One in the Harvard Law Review went so far as to declare that Thomas had no underlying legal approach other than to be in "direct opposition" to the views of Justice Thurgood Marshall whom he replaced. But, that is finally changing, as thoughtful articles taking seriously his opinions and commending his original understanding jurisprudence are now much more prevalent than those castigating him. They praise him as the "Next Great Dissenter," "the Lone Principled Federalist," and the emerging "Commercial Speech Protector."

Even his civil rights opinions are now winning the respect of leftist professors such as Mark Tushnet and the self-described "liberal black womanist," Angela Onwuachi-Willig, who confessed that, by defending Thomas, she had committed an act she "once thought was impossible."

As his 20-year effort to restore the original understanding of Constitution makes clear, there was no reason then and there is no reason now to doubt Thomas.
4129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Taxpayer paid buses, 2.2 million, head to swing states on: October 17, 2011, 08:52:51 AM
There is no primary opponent so the rule is no victim, no crime?  See if the sound bites this week coming from the President bus tour through states like North Carolina and Virginia that Obama carried in 2008 and needs in 2012 sound like campaigning or governing.  Leave the campaign war chest in the bank.  This tour is free!

WSJ: Obama to Target a Few Crucial States

The president starts a three-day bus trip Monday through North Carolina and Virginia that brings fresh attention to the kinds of voters he will rely on as he works to assemble a majority next year in the Electoral College.
4130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: The skeptics of 2008 proved prescient on: October 17, 2011, 08:35:08 AM
Did 2008 Come True?
October 16, 2011 - 11:15 am - by Victor Davis Hanson

The Right-Wing Complaint of 2008

In 2008, the following was the general right-wing argument against Obama’s candidacy:

a) The self-professed “uniter” Obama had, in truth, little record of uniting disparate groups. From community organizing to politics, his preferred modus operandi was rather to praise moderation, but politick more as a radical, and sometimes go after opponents as unreasonable or illiberal. Thus the most partisan voting senator in the Congress, who talked grandly of “working across the aisle,” also urged supporters to “get in their faces” and “take a gun to a knife fight.” Acorn, Project Vote, and SEIU were not ecumenical organizations.

b) Obama knew very little about foreign affairs, or perhaps even raw human nature as it plays out in power politics abroad. At times, he seemed naive about the singular role of the U.S. in the world, especially his sense that problems with Iran, the Middle East, Venezuela, Russia, and others were somehow predicated on American arrogance and unilateralism (and neither predating nor postdating George Bush) — to be remedied by Obama’s post-racial, post-national diplomacy.

c) In truth, Obama, for all his rhetorical skills and soft-spoken charisma, had little experience in the private sector outside of politics, academia, foundations, and subsidized organizing. Consequently, he did not seem to understand the nature of profit and loss, payrolls, how businesses worked and planned, or much of anything in the private sector.

d) Obama at times seemed to lack common sense, and perhaps even common knowledge. He appeared confused about everything from the number of U.S. states to the idea that air pressure and “tune-ups” might substitute for new oil exploration. He seemed assured when reading a teleprompted script, and yet lost much of his eloquence when it came to repartee and question and answer.

e) Obama saw race as essential to his persona and his success, rarely incidental. Collate the writings and rantings of his triad of pastors and friends — Rev. Wright, Rev. Pfleger, and Rev. Meeks — and one sees a common theme of racism (sometimes overt), anti-Semitism, and class warfare. It was considered irrelevant to remind voters in 2008 that Michelle Obama had alleged that the U.S. was a downright mean country, or that she had confessed to never heretofore being very proud of her country until it gave consideration to her husband as a presidential candidate — though both sentiments would seem rare for a potential first lady.

f) Obama, it was also felt, counted on a sense of entitlement. His admissions to Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard were alleged not to have been based on the usual competitive test scores or grades — and such charges were not refuted, but considered ancient history. As Harvard Law Review editor, he seemed to assume, quite rightly, that he did not have to publish an article. As a University of Chicago Law School lecturer he also rightly assumed that Chicago — and later Harvard as well — would, if he had wished, granted him tenure, again, despite nonexistent publication. Sen. Clinton argued, without much refutation, that as a state legislator Obama had both authored very little legislation and voted present on any vote that might be considered problematic for a higher political office — a charge that later disappointed supporters would come to echo, along with admissions of prior inexperience on Obama’s apart.

g) Obama, like many on the elite left, had an ambiguous attitude about affluence and its dividends. The more, as a community organizer, he had railed about bankers and unfairness, the more he had enjoyed a mini-mansion and dealt with the soon-to-be criminal Tony Rezko. The current Wall Street protests take their cue not just from presidential anger at “millionaires and billionaires,” but also from the idea that affluent young people are exempt from their own rhetorical charges.

Yet in 2008, to suggest “spread the wealth” meant anything important was to be either racist or a rank partisan. But Obama in 2001 in a Chicago public radio interview could not have been clearer about the need for government to redistribute income and his unhappiness that the Constitution seemed to prohibit that. Here is a telling excerpt in all its half-baked Foucauldian vocabulary:

    But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in the society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. … I think, the tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of powers through which you bring about redistributive change.

Again, to refer to all of the above in 2008 was considered not so much unfair as improper.

The Proving Ground

Then came the election, and a perfect storm of events. The general unhappiness with Bush over deficits and Iraq, the recession that had started in December 2007, the absence of any incumbent vice president or president in the race for the first time since 1952, an unusually unenergetic McCain campaign, and a nakedly partisan media — all that by early September still had not given Obama the lead. But the mid-September 2008 financial crash did. And so what in the last fifty years was usually considered improbable — the election of a northern Democratic liberal — soon seemed foreordained.

The Reality of 2011

We are now nearing the third year of the Obama administration. Were those worries of 2008 at all justified? Let us briefly review them in the same order:

a) Uniter? The country is divided, perhaps more so than in 2006 — except to the extent of gradually unifying around opposition to Obama, who now polls around 40% approval and is heading to Bush levels in three rather than seven years. “Get in their faces”transmogrified into “punish our enemies,” a lawsuit against Arizona, “stop the smears”/ JournoList/AttackWatch.com, and a shellacking in 2010 that led the president to abandon any pretense of “bipartisanship” in favor of revving up the base with them/us rhetoric. Let me juxtapose these two quotes that sum up the current weird Obama atmosphere:

    * “I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic.” — Hillary Clinton in 2003 objecting to the Bush administration.

    * “These are not patriots, people who love this country want to see jobs created. They don’t love this country. … I don’t think they love this country. They’re not concerned about the economic well being of the country as a whole.” — Rep. Linda Sanchez, in 2011, in response to congressional opposition to President Obama’s job’s bill.

Could now-Secretary Clinton address Rep. Sanchez’s charges?

b) Abroad? Obama soon began treating allies and enemies alike as near neutrals: outreach to Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba, while petty slights and sometimes serious rebuke to Israel, the UK, and eastern Europe. Once the most vocal of Bush’s critics, Obama ended up copycatting all of his predecessor’s anti-terrorism protocols – but without a gesture of gratitude. As Predator in chief, Obama quintupled the number of targeted assassinations, on the apparent theory that dead suspected terrorists would cause fewer problems than incarcerated confessed terrorists. Reset and outreach faded and are now terms of yesteryear: China is as anti-American as ever, more so Pakistan. Iran allegedly now tries to kill inside Washington. Putin is still Putin. “Leading from behind” proved that a thug like Gaddafi could resist NATO’s big three for eight months. The Arab Spring may become a winter of anti-Semitism, anti-Christianism,  and anti-Americanism. The Arab Spring also suggests so far two tragic truths: the Middle East changes only when the U.S. removes a psychopath, and then spends lots of blood and treasure fostering a new government — something that has zero political support after Iraq; and two, Middle East dictators are sometimes more liberal than the masses to whom they deny freedoms. In general, we still have Afghanistan and Iraq, plus Libya and now a small force in Africa. Israel, Cyprus, Taiwan, North Korea, and the former Soviet republics are more volatile, not less.

c) Economy? Obama’s EU-like economic plan is in shambles. Prior to Obama, Keynesians had argued that no one had given them a fair shot since the Depression. But borrowing nearly five trillion in less than three years, near zero interest rates, vastly expanding food stamps and unemployment benefits, absorbing private companies, and issuing vast new financial and environmental regulations turned an anticipated recovery into another near recession. In any case, Obama’s economic architects of such policies — Goolsbee, Orszag, Romer, Summers — mysteriously did not last three years.

d) Common sense? 2008 campaign “slips” prefaced things like “corpse-man” and speaking Austrian — perhaps understandable, but not in the media climate of zero media tolerance for “nucular.” Presidents I suppose in the future will have to be taught by handlers not to bow to emperors and kings. Going to our ally Germany to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall was apparently less important than jetting to Copenhagen to lobby for a Chicago Olympics. The 2009 Cairo speech was one of the most factually incorrect speeches in recent presidential history, as almost every assertion was demonstrably false. Well before Solyndra, the secretary of energy quipped that gas prices should reach European levels, that California farms would some day blow away, and that Americans, in essence, could not be trusted to buy the right light bulbs. From “man-made disasters” to “overseas contingency operations” to “my people” and “cowards” to videos assuring that immigration laws will not be enforced, the Obama cabinet is about what one could have predicted back in 2008.

e) Racial healing? All these earlier bothersome tidbits like “typical white person” reappeared with an entire litany of them/us calumnies, none of them in isolation of any importance, but in toto quite disturbing. Do we remember them all — from the beer summit and Eric Holder’s “my people” and “cowards” to “wise Latina,” “punish our enemies,” “moats and alligators,” the faux-southern black preacher cadences and condescending addresses to “bedroom slippers” African-American audiences, or the video appealing to constituents by racial categories? Few imagined in 2008 that the Congressional Black Caucus in 2011, in the new period of post-racialism, would be accusing opponents of wanting a return to lynching and Jim Crow laws.

f) Political savvy? Why federalize health care in the midst of a recession with 10% plus unemployment? Obama promised the public in November 2010 not to raise taxes in a recession, in 2011 to raise them a lot. Solyndra seems far worse than Enron, but Fast and Furious perhaps as bad as Iran Contra — except that Americans died in the former and not the latter. In 2010, potential Republican opponents and the Democratic base were worried that Obama would triangulate as Clinton had in 1995; in 2011, most observers are exasperated that he thinks more of what failed in 2010 is the remedy in 2011.

g) Hate or love of the elite? The hints of the 2008 attraction and distrust of wealth only magnified by 2011. In the midst of “at some point” we have made enough money, of not the time for profits on Wall Street, of “millionaires and billionaires,” of “corporate jets,” of going after everyone from guitar factories to Boeing — in the midst of all that, where do all the all elite vacation spots and golf resorts fit in — along with massive donations from Goldman Sachs and BP? How strange that the more one demonizes the good life that unimaginable riches provide, the more one seems comfortable with the good life that unlimited government subsidizes?

The skeptics of 2008 proved prescient; those who demonized them should be embarrassed. And we should remember that candidates, of both parties, will govern mostly as they campaign. Slips are not indiscretions, but often will prove in hindsight windows of the soul.
http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson/did-2008-come-true/?singlepage=true
4131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We STILL own 500 million shares of Government Motors on: October 17, 2011, 08:30:45 AM
http://www.bailoutcost.com/
Current loss:  14, 421,881,925.36

How the loss is calculated:
The United States Treasury owns roughly 500 million shares of common stock in General Motors. (Source: U.S. Treasury) The Treasury would need to sell these shares at roughly $53 per share in order to "break even" on the investment. (Source: WSJ) Using Google Finance API, we multiply the current GM stock price by 500,065,254, and subtract that total from $26,503,458,462 (or, 500,065,254 x $53).

Our calculations estimate the loss taxpayers would suffer if UST sells its GM common stock shares at the current ticker price. We track the common stock price and update our calculations on an ongoing basis, providing an up-to-the-minute snapshot of the money the UST lost in Government Motors.
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Rob Peter, pay Paul.  Someone tell me how coerced help from taxpayers to one enterprise is equal protection to all others...  sad
4132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of the Republicans on: October 17, 2011, 08:20:33 AM
"McCain-Feingold...was structured to make it more difficult to challenge incumbents."

True even if by accident.  Incumbents start with a big advantage, the powers of incumbency: briefing letters, press stories covering their work in Washington and their local visits, paid staff helping constituents, etc.  Spending limits applied evenly to everyone lock in that advantage.

The way you limit money in politics is limit what influence is for sale.  If the public were to not tolerate the special treatment of special groups in the tax code, in spending bills or in regulations, most of that kind of money would dry up quickly.
4133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the Republicans- Disparity on: October 16, 2011, 10:06:37 PM
"So what would be the policy solution to this gap?"

For lower and middle income earners to have the opportunity to earn more money if they want to.

Disparity tells us that people with high incomes make more money than people with lower incomes.  We are missing something with that.  I learn more when we compare some other variable such as that people who set an alarm and get up in the morning make more money than people who don't.  Or people who have saved and invested in their earlier years make more investment income now than people who didn't.

Fact is that a typical person moves freely between at least 3 or 4 of the 5 quintiles of earners in the course of their lifetime. 

The question IMO isn't disparity but opportunity.  If 40% of young people are unemployed right now, our policies are choking off their momentum to work a couple of jobs, save and start of business of their own someday.

"Campaign finance reform was lambasted by the..." ... [first amendment]   wink

"Simplify the tax code.  Get rid of loopholes"  YES!  And closing the loopholes means the marginal rates can be lower, and that would help investment, expansion and hiring get going again, helping those currently left out of the economy who don't want to be. Favorable conditions for economic growth will not cure disparity,but it does help everybody.

4134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GOP job growth plan on: October 16, 2011, 04:54:44 PM
Finally, a GOP Growth Plan
Senators John McCain and Rand Paul have drafted an economic growth blueprint that they hope to be the rallying cry of all congressional Republicans.

By STEPHEN MOORE

The White House and congressional Democrats hope to use the Senate rejection of the Obama jobs plan this week as a campaign issue against "do nothing Republicans." Senate Democrats have crowed that "Republicans have no jobs plan of their own," but that's not true any longer. Senators John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky have drafted a comprehensive economic growth blueprint that they hope to be the rallying cry of all congressional Republicans in the weeks ahead. We obtained a copy of the draft document which includes tax cuts, a balanced budget amendment, ObamaCare repeal, and a regulatory freeze.

In an interview, Mr. McCain said that the two GOP senators were asked by Senator John Cornyn of Texas to stitch together a counterpoint to the Obama $447 billion proposal that lost in the Senate on Tuesday. "Can you imagine a stranger pair than me and Rand Paul," laughed Mr. McCain of his co-sponsor, who is a libertarian Republican. "We found a lot of common ground, and that started with fixing the tax code," he adds.

The plan would also promote an America-first pro-drilling policy to expand U.S. industry and reduce the country's reliance on Middle East oil. That's an issue where Mr. Obama is highly vulnerable given the tens of billions wasted on wind and solar subsidies. On the regulatory front, federal agencies would not be able to issue new rules until the unemployment rate drops to 7.7%.

The plan, which would cut corporate tax rates to 25% from 35% is partly paid for by offering a reduced 5% tax on repatriated capital to the U.S. When that approach was tried in the Bush years, revenues rose as a flood of new capital that was trapped overseas poured back into the U.S. Mr. McCain fumed that the congressional score keepers won't count this maneuver "as a revenue raiser, even though we know it increase tax payments."

The plan won't get close to the 60 votes necessary in the Senate. But it does establish a polar star for Republicans to head toward. Republicans got a nice lift for the plan when a Chamber of Commerce poll asked 1300 business owners across the country whether they support the GOP plan of "permanent tax cuts and less regulation," or the Democratic plan of temporary payroll tax cuts and public works spending. More than eight of 10 said they favor the Republican approach.

Mr. Paul told Politico that it is critical that Republicans have a response on jobs to the White House offering. Now they have one, and we will see if Republicans actually fight for it.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204002304576631170682383808.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLESecond
4135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 16, 2011, 04:36:05 PM
"Perry has proven to be quite the disappointment."

Agree, but with 15 million in the bank he isn't going to go away anytime soon.  Like Newt, he can still add something to the discussion if he chooses to step up to the plate.
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I watched Cain on Meet the Press today.  Must say again what a pompous and partisan jerk David Gregory is.  Cain was poised and focused, answered every question very well, never distracted by the outrageous opposing opinions expressed in the question that poses as journalism.  Cain was ready on every objection.  Cain makes the Reagan  case on foreign policy, peace through strength, wouldn't let Gregory go anywhere with neocon labeling and didn't get drawn into specifics on action against Iran.  When all he has for intelligence and IF this was an act of war, then he would have his advisers present him with "all our options".

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032608/vp/44921014#44921014
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/44908788/ns/meet_the_press-transcripts/

Gregory: For starters, about 30 million of the poorest households pay neither income taxes nor Social Security or Medicare levies.  `So for them,'" he says, "`doing away with the payroll tax doesn't save anything.  And you are adding both a 9 percent sales tax and 9 percent income tax.  So we know they will be worse off.'" That's the reality, Mr. Cain

After being completely refuted by Cain, Gregory says: "The other defect in the plan..."

Gregory just can't get it that state and Federal are DIFFERENT.  No matter what you do with federal, you have state taxes to deal with. His plan has nothing to do with that.

Cain did not back off of strong statement made in speeches, Cain clip: 'liberals seek to destroy this country',  Gregory: "How so?" Cain: "economically".  They don't want America to be strong.
4136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 16, 2011, 01:26:41 PM
GM wrote: "At least Cain is willing to think outside the box on this topic."

Absolutely! Cain put himself on the map with his plan and sparked the interest of both the flat and Fair tax people that unfortunately are two competing minorities of the electorate. I read through Romney's 59 point plan and can't remember any of it.  I did not find the top marginal rate in there - because it isn't in there.  Hardly a commitment to lower rates, economic growth and smaller government.

Cain is the only one calling for the complete scrapping of the current tax code.  Many are finding agreement with the first two nines and but distrusting the third - the enactment of a large new federal tax.  The door is wide open for candidate Rick Perry to also scrap the code with a different plan.  Gov. Perry, if you are reading this, debates won't be so scary after you have a plan.  I will be happy to outline one for you.

4137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: October 16, 2011, 12:29:46 PM
Kudlow is wrong about Cain's 999 excluding people below the poverty line. Kudlow says: "the Cain plan partially deals with this by exempting everybody below the poverty line." That was the FAIR tax that did that, undermining its simplicity.  Cain has only said that people poor or otherwise can avoid this tax by buying used goods.  A fair point except the price of used goods will go up by the same 9% his own valid logic - an embedded tax passed along to the consumer.

Note that Kudlow also writes: "I am troubled by the national sales tax piece. It reminds me too much of Europe. It could start low and then build on top of the other taxes. But I totally support the first two nines on personal income and business....I'm still a flat-tax guy"

Me too.

I posted at length previously as to why I believe the FAIR tax is unworkable politically, such as here is 2007:  http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1477.msg15510#msg15510  That is the reason Cain moved to the combination plan, but the combination plan precludes the central feature of the FAIR tax, repealing the income tax amendment.  

I agree the Cain plan if implemented exactly as written will achieve an economic jumpstart and optimistic future growth rates similar to what is claimed, but I don't believe income taxes and corporate taxes will then stay flat or low thereafter, but I do believe that a new federal tax will never go down in its top rate or go away.

Cain 9-9-9 requires a 2/3 majority to change the rates?  How so?  That sounds more like a constitutional amendment than a tax bill.  I favor constitutional amendments to cap tax rates and spending.  That is not in the proposal.
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I strongly agree with  this part, Crafty wrote: "The current structure, where most people pay little or no taxes actually weakens our resistance on the whole.  A system where virtually everyone pays THE SAME RATE will do much to stiffen the spine of we the people should Washington try to increase any of the 9s."

 
4138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Republican race so far (Dance of the Un-Mitts) by John Podhoretz on: October 14, 2011, 10:04:17 PM
Crafty,  I see it differently, but I notice that John Podhoretz also makes the Ronald Reagan comparison.  This is a great re-cap of the race so far:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/dance_of_the_un_mitts_pYgo0N3ZIba7sLXGzZo18L

The question now for Herman Cain, certainly the most charming Republican presidential contender since Ronald Reagan, is whether he’s a formidable candidate in his own right -- or just the latest of the Not-Romneys.

The structure of the GOP race this year has been simple. There’s Mitt Romney and his solid 20-25 percent of the Republican electorate, the level of support the former Massachusetts governor has garnered in nearly every major poll this year.

And then there’s the other 75 percent. They know Romney. They’ve been listening to him for nearly five years. And they’re not buying.

There are three possible explanations for this.

They dislike his stands on policy. How can Republicans nominate a man who imposed an individual health-care mandate on the state of Massachusetts to lead a party whose primary policy goal since 2010 has been the repeal of ObamaCare -- designed around an individual health-care mandate?

They can’t make an emotional connection with him. Romney is a Scotchgarded candidate -- all attempts to penetrate the shiny surface are repelled. This is why there is political value to his rivals when someone brings up his Mormonism, and not just to make evangelicals uncomfortable with him. Because LDS is a minority faith, Romney’s membership in the church only emphasizes his otherness and distance.

The GOP base’s difficulty in finding a commonality with Romney is related to their unease with his policy history. Romney does not have a natural affinity with the GOP faithful. Or, as Rush Limbaugh put it simply yesterday, “Romney is not a conservative. He’s not, folks.”

Romney has sought to calm these concerns simply by changing some of his positions. He was pro-choice; now he’s pro-life. He was a supporter of some vague form of gay marriage; now he promises to oppose it. Which leads to point 3:

GOP voters think Romney is a phony. Combine the above two and you get this one.

Authenticity is always an issue for primary voters, as it should be. They are the most committed people in politics, and they believe deeply in the power of the political system to do good (even if, in the Republican case, the good to be done is to dismantle the political system in part). An inauthentic candidate is exactly the kind of politician true believers fear the most.

Romney can’t really do anything about these problems -- except perhaps find a way to remove the Scotchgard. And because of them, the GOP race all year has been a contest between Romney and the Not-Romneys.

First up was Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, who said explicitly that he was in the race to provide a more conservative mainstream alternative to Romney.

He went nowhere because, as it turned out, the 75 percent didn’t want to choose between Romney and a better version of Romney. They wanted a Not-Romney, a candidate of conservative principle, and three have surfaced.

Michele Bachmann surged after two debate performances in which she positioned herself as unwilling and indeed emotionally incapable of compromise. But her entire candidacy was and is negative -- you know what she won’t do and what she doesn’t like, but you know nothing else.

Her Not-Romney position was obliterated by the arrival of the man who, on paper, was the perfect Not-Romney: Rick Perry. A hard-line conservative, he could also boast of governing credentials and had a simple positive message: I can get the country back to work the way people are working in Texas.

Perry has done nothing but shoot himself in the foot he’s had lodged in his mouth for six weeks. So now comes Herman Cain.

Now this is a Not-Romney -- an African-American evangelical preacher and former businessman with an entrancing personality and a genuine sense of the size and drama of the present moment.

Cain speaks plainly, whereas Romney speaks like the guy in a radio commercial reading off the fine print of a lottery. Romney has a 59-point plan to save the economy? Cain has a one-point plan, the already-iconic 9-9-9.

This is Cain’s Not-Romney moment. Some polls have him ahead of Romney now. Every conventional understanding of politics says he can’t win; 9-9-9 is fun to describe but difficult to defend substantively; Cain has an unfortunate history of saying unfortunate things. And he has no elective experience.

And he has one more problem: Romney. Because while everybody was looking for an alternative to him, Romney has used his time on the trail to turn himself into a dazzling candidate. Even the 75 percent won’t remain immune forever to just how fluent, how precise and how serious he is about running and winning.

All he needs is for this one last Not-Romney to fade as the others did. Will he?
4139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 14, 2011, 07:12:39 PM
"I love the first two 9's  of his 999 - but not the last.  At least he has people talking about revamping the tax code."

Absolutely!  I don't think there is any question that Cain, who used to support moving 100% to a sales tax, could be moved in negotiations with congress to any serious proposal that tears up the old tax code, taxes income evenly, slashes the rates, and raises just as much money.

For Romney, he will leave the highest rates on the rich (because they fell into it?) and for Perry he will continue the public private partnerships.  How can we measure income if we can't even define what is a private business?

People  who liked Newt can remember that Cain's one word description was 'brilliant'.  Newt will have his best second shot at writing domestic policy in a Cain administration.
4140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: October 14, 2011, 04:40:03 PM
www.HermanCain.com  I just donated $25.  With the dates for the primaries moving up dramatically, Herman is going to need the $ now.

I wasn't endorsing yet, but you are right about timing.  Now is the time.  I think I will match you on that.  

To all others:  Do not sit on the sidelines spring, summer and fall of 2011 and then in early 2012 tell us you don't like the remaining choices.

We aren't going to elect a perfect President, but we are going to elect a President.
4141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: October 14, 2011, 04:35:35 PM
I am taking the Laffer and Ryan endorsements to be non exclusive; the Cain plan is one good way to move forward out of this mess:

Laffer...said Mr. Cain's principles on taxation are "really sound," and that Mr. Cain himself is a "world-class candidate," but he also praised several other GOP candidates.
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/65958.html

“We need more bold ideas like this because it is specific and credible,” Ryan said
http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/187437-paul-ryan-loves-cains-specific-and-credible-9-9-9-plan
4142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Washington Post opposes dynamic scoring? on: October 13, 2011, 11:25:42 PM
Media idiocy in economics.  Washington Post editorial yesterday denies that changing the income.  They prefers static scoring.  Call dynamic scoring "faith-based" analysis.  Unbelievable.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/herman-cains-deceptive-and-unfair-tax-plan/2011/10/12/gIQAauGDgL_story.html

Mr. Cain’s argument of revenue-neutrality rests on the sleight of hand of dynamic scoring — taking into account the economic growth to be generated by lower tax rates. This kind of faith-based tax analysis is too dubious a basis on which to rest an economic program.

4143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Herman Cain vs. Pres. Clinton on Health Care, April 1994 on: October 13, 2011, 11:04:00 PM
Watch Clinton's expression as he gets his lunch handed to him by a questioning restaurant proprietor.  Rhodes scholar young Bill Clinton does some pretty fast math on his feet - impressive to his audience, but wrong.  Readers of these pages would already know that Cain has a degree in mathematics and didn't pose his question to the President without doing his homework.  At the end, Clinton bails as if time is up and says send me your calculations.  Cain did that and never received a reply from the President or anyone in his administration. 

One of the bonehead statements of the Rhodes scholar that never worked in the private sector is that mandatory healthcare would only add 2% of additional cost (actually 7%) to a business with 10,000 employees that returns 1 1/2% to the bottom line.  No return or a negative return on sales means no expansion, no hiring, really no reason to be in business.

Another thing clear from the video is that Cain is no affirmative action, racially picked figurehead.  He is clearly the leader of the operation, out front and center in public advancing the interests of the business.  Besides CEO of a 500 restaurant company, he was also head of the national restaurant association.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vy542UgSelQ  Intro ends at about 1:10.
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When he gave the Greenspan example for Fed management he made it very clear he was referring only to the years in the early 1990s when he served as Chairman of the Kansas City Fed.  It was a trick question because there was no good example in our adult lifetime of a Fed chair who would serve as a model for a great appointment.  In the last several decades we had Arthur Burns and the inflationary spiral of the 1970's.  We had inflation and then tight money that was poorly timed  under Volcker and caused a very deep recession and later became an Obama adviser, now AWOL.  We had the bizarre record of Greenspan who barely spoke English and we have the current QEx fanatic who can't remember his mission.
4144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Fascism, liberal fascism, progressivism, socialism: on: October 13, 2011, 11:48:34 AM
It will be interesting on the left to see who owns and who dis-owns the message that will come out of the 'Occupy' movement.

GM posted the purple hair and nose ring lady.  BD advised to look past a few kooks for validity in their points.  Over time we will see what are their points.  I predict from past similar movements it will devolve into anti-capitalism which puts Obama the mainstream anti-capitalist in a tricky situation about taking sides.

"Fast-forward about 100 years to the "99 percenters v. 1 percenters."
Today, almost 35 percent of Americans are dependent upon government subsidies, and 40 percent of Americans pay no income tax and thus have no stake in the cost of government. Consequently, most are predisposed to vote for the redistribution of others' incomes rather than work for their own."

Our own CCP has persuasively made this point.  '35% of Americans' understates the influence.  Normally I have seen it written more like '53% of households' receive federal transfer of wealth payments.  I understand helping the oldest and weakest among us who cannot get help from their own family, church, county, state or neighborhood, but not defining the weakest among us who have no chance as the lower 99%!

Which hurts you more financially if you are middle class, the people who are taking from you or the people who pay taxes in dollars about 40 times more than you are?
4145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - Rush L: Romney is not a conservative on: October 13, 2011, 11:28:56 AM
My view is that, like a Supreme Court Justice settling in after confirmation, there is about a 50-50 shot that Romney will govern in the right direction.  Running against a 0% chance.

Rush's view here is that if being a Governor is such a great experience for becoming President, then why can't we judge what they did as Governor?  Surprisingly strong words:
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/10/12/rush_limbaugh_romney_is_not_a_conservative.html

The reason is simple: Romney is not a conservative. He's not, folks. You can argue with me all day long on that, but he isn't. What he has going for him is that he's not Obama and that he is doing incredibly well in the debates because he's done it a long time. He's very seasoned. He never makes a mistake, and he's going to keep winning these things if he never makes a mistake. It's that simple. But I'm not personally ready to settle on anybody yet -- and I know that neither are most of you, and I also know that most of you do not want this over now, before we've even had a single primary! All we've had are straw votes. You know that the Republican establishment's trying to nail this down and end it. You know that that's happening, and I know that you don't want that to happen, and neither do I.

Now, as for Romney -- and you should know, by the way, that I've met Romney. I've not played golf with him but I've met him, and I like all of these people. This isn't personal, not with what country faces and so forth. I like him very much. I've spent some social time with him. He's a fine guy. He's very nice gentleman. He is a gentleman. But he's not a conservative -- and if you disagree, I'm open. The telephone lines are yours. Call and tell me what you think it is that makes him a principled conservative, what exactly is it. Is there something that he has said that shows conservative, principled leadership? What did he say? I'm open to it. Now, we're told that governors are better than legislators when looking for presidents for a host of reasons.

Legislators are filled with ego, they sit around and by "yes" men, they're not executives, and they're one of many, and the buck never really stops with them. Governors, it's just the exact opposite. But when we look at the record, and we bring up Romneycare, we're told, "Well, that's been he was a governor, but as president he wouldn't do any such thing." What? What do you mean he wouldn't do any such thing? He did it is the point. He has positions as governor that make it obvious he believes in the concept of manmade global warming. "Yeah, but that was as governor, Rush. It's a liberal state. He had to do things to get elected." Um, there's gonna be a lot of liberal pressure on whoever our president is: Media, Democrat members of Congress that the media's gonna fawn all over.

Every night you'll have Harry Reid and Pelosi on camera commenting on what the new conservative president's doing. There's gonna be all kinds of liberal pressure on whoever our next president is who's a Republican conservative. The Romneycare health care bill has individual mandates, and they're wrong. Individual mandates are wrong whether they're imposed by a governor or a president. Governor McDonnell of Virginia has not done what Romney did in Massachusetts, and neither have most other Republican governors. Governor McDonnell of Virginia is running a very small deficits, but surplus, in fact, I think. His unemployment rate in Virginia is way down. Nobody talks about him for the presidency, because he himself has not put himself out there for it.

But most Republican governors are not having to fall back on the federalism argument to justify what they did. "Well, it's states' rights. You know, we're laboratories. We can do whatever we want to do. I wouldn't do it, of course, at the federal level! I wouldn't do it. But, of course, the governors we gotta experiment with things," and the reason that they're not falling back on federalism is because, as governors, they didn't make terrible policy decisions that they now have to justify. So if we are going to look at a governor's record, what exactly do we find? There's manmade global warming, and Romney has indicated that he believes in it and he has supported laws in Massachusetts built on it. The EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, in the federal government is out of control.
4146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: October 13, 2011, 10:56:52 AM
I agree that nothing in the story indicates why they would trade one person for a thousand.  There is more to that and we don't get to know what it is.
---------------
Earlier in the year during the Arab spring there was a near-war between Iran and Saudi over Bahrain, a decades old dispute that I assume is still smoldering.  That Iran would want to kill off their enemy Saudi while he is negotiating assistance against them from their enemy America isn't is no surprise, nor is it new that our security is constantly thwarting off attacks like this.  It is a huge story, but not something new or changing as I see it.

Didn't this happen over the summer?  The surprise is that the Obamites went to press with it now instead of holding it a year for value in the general election.
4147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Environmental issues: Role of the EPA on: October 13, 2011, 10:39:09 AM
Pulling out one point of CW from Politics: "main points I don't agree with the tea party... the EPA..."

I would think the federal role for protecting our air and water involves watching for gaps in necessary regulation and enforcement from across the 50 states and taking action in certain extreme circumstances that can't be solved a better way.  I don't understand having a federal standard for something that is stricter than what the people in the states chose for their standard at home.   But let's say 49 states have good and reasonable air and water protections and one state doesn't, and from that one state they spew filth or pollutants down wind or downstream outward across state lines.  That is when a federal government role is appropriate and justified.

All I think a conservative or tea partier would want for environmental regulation is a practice that regulations are reasonable and based on real cost/benefit analysis.  To unilaterally drive all factories off our shores alone does not reduce global carbon or anything else on the planet by a milligram.
4148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 13, 2011, 10:13:12 AM
The 99% to me infers a class war war against the top 1% of earners.  I don't feel any of that.  I wish every family could have at least one million-plus dollar earner.  That reminds me to talk to my daughter about careers.

Wall street as an issue to me is only: what should the laws be and are we investigating and prosecuting all the violations.

Other than that, get rid of all the preferences so that businesses can concentrate on business instead of lobbying.  Start with getting it preferences of the tax code.  Then out with all the preferential spending.  Then comb through all regulations to make sure only what is necessary and can't be achieved a better way is regulated.  Obscene profits indicates a lack of competition for those services.  It is over-regulation and overly-complex regulations that pull our best and brightest into things like SEC compliance and employee benefit law instead of inventing, building and innovating.
4149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: October 12, 2011, 11:41:13 PM
Thank you CW.

"I'm mostly interested in aggravating politicians that are in bed with large corporations. I'd also like to see something more tangible to prevent things like the 2008 crash. It was just used as an excuse to rob the treasury. Hell, Obama is still doing it."

I agree on these points.
4150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The congnitive dissonance of the left on: October 12, 2011, 05:33:55 PM
http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/587698/201110111829/Apologies-Not-Accepted.htm

Actual cable:
http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=09TOKYO2033
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