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5251  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: california: New taxes coming, add them all up - if you can on: December 05, 2012, 08:42:49 PM
The top federal rate with all the surcharges will be 44.6%.

Under prop 30, the top Calif rate will be 12.3%.,_Sales_and_Income_Tax_Increase_%282012%29

Add those two:  56.9%

Whoops, that income may have already been double taxed at the corporate level, 35% federal and 8.84% Calif, roughly the highest in the world.

If you buy anything, add up to 10% for 2013 sales tax, state and local.

If you invest any of it, don't forget the new investment dividend surtaxes - on what was already taxed twice at the corporate level:  44.8+12.3% +35+8.8%

Previous post in the Calif thread: POTH says California shows signs of resurgence.

Good luck with that.  What could possibly go wrong?

In one year, Britain lost 2/3rds of its millionaires with smaller tax increases.  Even with a moat.

California has freeways going out, not an English Channel.

"Latest U-Haul Index Shows Californians Leaving for Texas"

Who knew?  Pretty soon you won't need a truck to haul what is left.
5252  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Constitutional Law: Obamacare, a tax that will not be uniformly applied on: December 05, 2012, 07:27:30 PM
From lawyers who worked on the previous, unsuccessful challenge.  (WSJ excerpt)

The Opening for a Fresh ObamaCare Challenge
By defining the mandate as a tax, one that will not be uniformly applied, the Supreme Court ran afoul of the Constitution.


ObamaCare is being implemented, having been upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court in June in a series of cases now known as National Federation of Independent Business v. HHS. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that the court took a law that was flawed but potentially workable and transformed it into one that is almost certainly unworkable. More important, the justices also may have created new and fatal constitutional problems.

ObamaCare, or the Affordable Care Act, was conceived as a complex statutory scheme designed to provide Americans with near-universal health-care coverage and to effectively federalize the nation's health-care system. The law's core provision was an individual health-insurance purchase mandate, adopted by Congress as a "regulation" of interstate commerce. The provision required most Americans to buy federally determined minimum health-care insurance, or to pay a penalty more or less equivalent to the cost of that coverage.

Equally important were provisions requiring creation of state-run health-care insurance exchanges (where middle-income earners could obtain the prescribed coverage) and an expanded Medicaid program (also administered by the states) to cover people with incomes up to 133% (later upped to 138%) of the federal poverty level. An income of up to $31,809 for a family of four would qualify for Medicaid. States that failed to join in the Medicaid expansion were threatened with the loss of all federal Medicaid dollars, nearly a quarter of all state expenditures.

In the ObamaCare ruling, the Supreme Court correctly held that Congress could not impose the individual mandate as a constitutional regulation of interstate commerce and that Congress could not constitutionally use its spending power to coerce the states to expand Medicaid. Rather than strike down the law, however, the court construed the insurance-purchase mandate and its penalty as a "tax" on the failure to have health insurance. The justices also interpreted the Medicaid-expansion requirements as optional—permitting states to opt out of these provisions while staying within the traditional Medicaid program. Given that interpretation, the court's majority upheld the statute as constitutional.

The court's determination to preserve ObamaCare through "interpretation" has exacerbated the law's original flaws to the point that it has become palpably unworkable. By transforming the penalties for failing to comply with the law's requirements into a "tax," the court has given the public a green light to ignore ObamaCare's requirements when it is economically beneficial. Law-abiding individuals, who might otherwise have complied with the law's expensive purchase mandate to avoid being subjected to financial penalties, can simply now choose to pay a tax and not sign up for coverage. There is certainly no stigma attached to simply paying a tax, and noncompliance with the law's other requirements—such as those imposed on employers—is arguably made more attractive on the same basis. This effect fundamentally undercuts Congress's original purpose, which was to expand health-care coverage to the greatest number of people, not to improve federal revenues.

Similarly, having reviewed the likely costs and benefits, states are now taking advantage of the court-granted flexibility. Seven states, including Texas, Mississippi and Georgia, have so far opted out of the Medicaid-expansion provisions, and eight (with more certain to come) are refusing to create the insurance exchanges, leaving this to a federal bureaucracy unequipped to handle these new administrative burdens. As a result, a growing number of low-income Americans will be unable to obtain the free or cost-effective insurance that Congress originally meant them to have, although they remain subject to the mandate-tax.

Policy problems aside, by transforming the mandate into a tax to avoid one set of constitutional problems (Congress having exceeded its constitutionally enumerated powers), the court has created another problem. If the mandate is an indirect tax, as the Supreme Court held, then the Constitution's "Uniformity Clause" (Article I, Section 8, Clause 1) requires the tax to "be uniform throughout the United States." The Framers adopted this provision so that a group of dominant states could not shift the federal tax burden to the others. It was yet another constitutional device that was simultaneously designed to protect federalism and safeguard individual liberty.

The Supreme Court has rarely considered the Uniformity Clause's reach, but it cannot be ignored. The court also refused to impose meaningful limits on Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce for decades after the 1930s, until justices began to re-establish the constitutional balance in the 1990s with decisions leading up to the ObamaCare ruling this summer. And although the court has upheld as "uniform" taxes that affect states differently in practice, precedent makes clear that a permissible tax must "operate with the same force and effect in every place where the subject of it is found," as held in the Head Money Cases (1884). The ObamaCare tax arguably does not meet this standard.

ObamaCare provides that low-income taxpayers, who are nevertheless above the federal poverty line, can discharge their mandate-tax obligation by enrolling in the new, expanded Medicaid program, which serves as the functional equivalent of a tax credit. But that program will not now exist in every state because, as a matter of federal law, states can opt out. The actual tax burden will not be geographically uniform as the court's precedents require.

Thus, having transformed the individual mandate into a tax, the court may face renewed challenges to ObamaCare on uniformity grounds. The justices will then confront a tough choice. Having earlier reinterpreted the mandate as a tax, they would be hard-pressed to approve the geographic disparity created when states opt out of the Medicaid expansion. But that possibility is inherent in a scheme that imposes a nominally uniform tax liability accompanied by the practical equivalent of a fully off-setting tax credit available only to those living in certain states. To uphold such a taxing scheme would eliminate any meaningful uniformity requirement—a result that the Constitution does not permit.

ObamaCare was always a poorly conceived and constitutionally deficient statute. The Supreme Court's ruling upholding the law has simply made it worse. In the future, that decision is likely to be seen as a prime reason that the federal courts should judge and never legislate... more at the link.
5253  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in Constitutional Law - Obamacare and the origination clause on: December 05, 2012, 07:19:24 PM
For the previous post in the thread, temporary takings, that is good news.  There was a similar ruling for partial takings, I recall.  Still not overturned is Kelo, the power to take private property to transfer to other private ownership. 
A good piece with an unfortunate conclusion, a shell bill successfully gets around the origination requirement??

WSJ     December 4, 2012  By JAMES TARANTO
Too Good to Be True - An ObamaCare challenge that's almost certain to fail.

From we learn of a new legal challenge to ObamaCare--"a challenge that only could have been made after the Supreme Court's ruling" in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, which upheld most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:

    The right-leaning Pacific Legal Foundation amended its challenge to the ACA after the Supreme Court upheld the insurance mandate under Congress' taxing powers.

    The group's challenge turns on the Origination Clause in the U.S. Constitution, which requires that bills for raising revenue start in the House of Representatives.

    Problem is, the group argues, Obamacare started in the Senate. . . .

    Of course, it's not entirely clear whether Pacific Legal will ultimately prevail on this reasoning.

We'd say it's almost entirely clear that it will not.

The Origination Clause provides that "all Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." In order to prevail, the plaintiff in this case would have to establish both that ObamaCare was a "Bill for raising Revenues" and that it originated in the Senate.

Not every law imposing a tax is a "Bill for Raising Revenues." In the court's most recent Origination Clause case, U.S. v. Munoz-Flores (1990), the court unanimously upheld the 1984 Victims of Crime Act, which imposed "a monetary 'special assessment' on any person convicted of a federal misdemeanor." A six-justice majority held that even though the act raised revenue, it was not a bill for raising revenue:

    The special assessment provision was passed as part of a particular program to provide money for that program--the Crime Victims Fund. Although any excess was to go to the Treasury, there is no evidence that Congress contemplated the possibility of a substantial excess, nor did such an excess in fact materialize. Any revenue for the general Treasury that 3013 creates is thus "incidenta[l]" to that provision's primary purpose."

Pacific Legal contrasts the Munoz-Flores assessment with the ObamaCare mandate tax on the ground that the latter "is more akin to an income tax, whose revenues go to the general treasury and are used for general Government operations."

That is a plausible distinction. But it is also plausible to argue that the revenues from the ObamaCare mandate tax are "incidental" to its primary purpose, which is to encourage people to buy insurance. That Congress did not even write the mandate as a tax would seem to strengthen, not weaken, the argument that its revenues are incidental.

We'd be delighted to see Pacific Legal's lawsuit succeed. But if one assumes that Chief Justice John Roberts adopted the "saving construction" for political reasons, it strikes us as highly unlikely that he would now strike down ObamaCare on Origination Clause grounds when he could sustain it without nearly the level of intellectual gymnastics he employed in the NFIB case.

It's also inaccurate to say that the court's opinion upholding ObamaCare opened the door to an Origination Clause challenge. For the law contains many other taxes--including a Medicare levy on investment income and excise taxes on such things as medical devices and tanning salons--which Congress knowingly enacted as taxes for the purpose of raising revenue. And Congress did, however unrealistically, foresee a surplus. It's still far from clear that ObamaCare was a "Bill for raising Revenue," since its main purpose was to remake the health insurance market. But these other taxes, not the mandate, provide the strongest argument that it was.

Even if we assume ObamaCare was a "Bill for raising Revenue," there's one further problem. Although it's true that the version of the law that was finally enacted passed the Senate before the House, it was, as Pacific Legal notes in its pleading, styled a "House Resolution." Here's what happened (citations omitted):

    In September, 2009, the House unanimously passed H.R. 3590, entitled the "Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009." The bill would have "amend[ed] the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify first-time homebuyers credit in the case of members of the Armed Forces and certain other Federal employees"; H.R. 3590 had nothing to do with health insurance reform. In November of that year, the Senate "amended" the House bill by gutting its contents, replacing those contents with health-insurance reforms (including the purchase requirement and associated payment), and renaming the bill the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." The Senate's purported amendment resulted in the Affordable Care Act that became law.

This procedural dodge is known as a "shell bill" and is designed precisely to evade Origination Clause challenges. Pacific Legal notes in a press release that "the Supreme Court has never ruled on whether such a gut and switch ploy is constitutional." But the law at issue in Munoz-Flores was enacted in the same way, and one justice argued in a concurring opinion that that was sufficient to pass constitutional muster under the Origination Clause:

    The enrolled bill's indication of its House of origin establishes that fact as officially and authoritatively as it establishes the fact that its recited text was adopted by both Houses. . . . We should no more gainsay Congress' official assertion of the origin of a bill than we would gainsay its official assertion that the bill was passed by the requisite quorum, or any more than Congress or the President would gainsay the official assertion of this Court that a judgment was duly considered and approved by our majority vote. Mutual regard between the coordinate branches, and the interest of certainty, both demand that official representations regarding such matters of internal process be accepted at face value.

That justice was Antonin Scalia, one of the four dissenters in NFIB v. Sebelius. There is every reason to think the Origination Clause will not save us from ObamaCare.
5254  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Bush Tax Rate Cut Issue in One Chart on: December 05, 2012, 04:48:38 PM
Reason Magazine calls this The Bush Tax Cut Issue in One Chart

Federal outlays and receipts in the last two years of the Clinton Administration, all eight years of George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s first term:

The tax cuts took effect in 2003.  The congress sworn to end them was sworn in Jan. 2007.  During that time, revenues exploded and deficits plummeted.

Spending marches upward no matter who is in office or how much money we take in.  Both revenues and spending are much worse in recession.  So to solve the budget shortfall, we choose to trigger another recession.

5255  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / IRS issues new rules, new taxes (Obamacare) in addition to the other tax hikes on: December 05, 2012, 04:28:46 PM
The Internal Revenue Service has released new rules for investment income taxes on capital gains and dividends earned by high-income individuals that passed Congress as part of the 2010 healthcare reform law.

The 3.8 percent surtax on investment income, meant to help pay for healthcare, goes into effect in 2013. It is the first surtax to be applied to capital gains and dividend income.

The tax affects only individuals with more than $200,000 in modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), and married couples filing jointly with more than $250,000 of MAGI.

The tax applies to a broad range of investment securities ranging from stocks and bonds to commodity securities and specialized derivatives.

The 159 pages of rules spell out when the tax applies to trusts and annuities, as well as to individual securities traders.

Released late on Friday, the new regulations include a 0.9 percent healthcare tax on wages for high-income individuals.

Both sets of rules will be published on Wednesday in the Federal Register.

The proposed rules are effective starting January 1. Before making the rules final, the IRS will take public comments and hold hearings in April.

Together, the two taxes are estimated to raise $317.7 billion over 10 years, according to a Joint Committee on Taxation analysis released in June.

To illustrate when the tax applies, the IRS offered an example of a taxpayer filing as a single individual who makes $180,000 in wage income plus $90,000 from investment income. The individual's modified adjusted gross income is $270,000.

The 3.8 percent tax applies to the $70,000, and the individual would pay $2,660 in surtaxes, the IRS said.

The IRS plans to release a new form for taxpayers to fill out for this tax when filing 2013 returns.

The new rules leave some questions unanswered, tax experts said. It was unclear how rental income will be treated under the new rules, said Michael Grace, managing director at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP law firm in Washington.

"The proposed regulations surely will increase tax compliance burdens for individuals," said Grace, a former IRS official. "There's clearly some drafting left to be done."
5256  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: December 05, 2012, 04:19:45 PM
"AT the moment my thinking is that the Reps should give BO the rates on the rich on which he campaigned and won , , ,  and the static assumption 8-9 days of government that they will pay for.  Then have it out over the rest of it."

That makes some PR and conciliatory tone sense, is tempting, and is probably what Speaker Boehner is thinking, but... 

That 10% increase isn't the only increase coming.  You will be signing on with taking down the economy. 

Giving on that point does NOT make you more likely to win on the other points. 

By the same logic (on which he campaigned and won), each House Republican campaigned on the opposite - and won. If the President's win was on issues, specifically raising any tax rates, and not on personality, negative mudslinging etc., then where were his coat tails?

Congress is a competing, co-equal branch on these divided issues, not a cooperative branch. They are a check and a balance against all that he wants.  If the President was right, then fine, lesson learned, but each Republican House member knows better.  Rate hikes kill off growth and jobs.  Each needs to vote what they believe is the best interest of the country.  Each will face a worse electoral challenge if they don't.

The constitution gives appropriations and revenue raising authority first to the congress, if I understand it correctly.  The constitution, by my reading, defines the size and scope of government as the least of what the House, Senate, Executive and Judiciary can accept.  The President is in a stronger position only to the extent that he may be the only one with a spine. 

Tip O'Neill's members gave votes to Reagan tax cuts because either the individual representative or the constituents sided with Reagan, not out of deference to the national election.  Many of those districts I think were southern or rural and were becoming Democrat in name only.   Gingrich, just mentioned, shut down the government twice instead of playing nice and violating their principles.  They were reelected. 
5257  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Mediocrity, Bias, Agenda and Fact Hiding: Where is THIS story? on: December 05, 2012, 12:30:46 PM
One of the two biggest showstoppers today threatening to shut down USA government and private competitivenes, and force us into immediate recession is the wisdom and experience of raising taxes on the rich.  GOP House members are pledged not to do it.  The President says no deal without it.  The media withholds the facts and then polls the public on the assignment of blame.

The U.K. lost 60% of its millionaires in one year with a tax rate increase on the rich that yielded NO NEW REVENUES while we argue the same question here, right now.

France is also losing wealth, millionaires and revenues with even more punitive policies.

I already posted on 'Tax Issues', now I ask here on 'Media Issues', where is this story?

Someone please link footage of broadcast network news leading story or link to front page coverage on the Washington Post, NY Times, LA Times, etc. etc.  Even in the Wall Street Journal news sections, not opinion.  It isn't an opinion.  It's a stubborn fact, and an extremely timely and relevant story.

I whine in general, often, about the need to go to biased, right wing sources to get basic, pertinent, public policy information.  But my willingness to dig for data doesn't solve anything politically or economically if only a few right wingers get the information.  This story is one specific example. 
5258  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government spending, deficit, and budget process - The budget Baseline Con on: December 05, 2012, 11:42:31 AM
Where have we heard this before? (

WSJ excerpt below, subscription info at the link
The Budget Baseline Con  December 4, 2012
How Washington fools the public about spending 'cuts.'

  ...President Obama and John Boehner are playing by the dysfunctional Beltway rules. The rules work if you like bigger government, but Republicans need a new strategy, which starts by exposing the rigged game of "baseline budgeting."

Both the White House and House Republicans are pretending that their goal is "reducing the deficit," which they suggest means making real spending choices. They are talking about a "$4 trillion plan," or something, regardless of how that number is reached.

Here's the reality: Those numbers have no real meaning because they are conjured in the wilderness of mirrors that is the federal budget process. Since 1974, Capitol Hill's "baseline" has automatically increased spending every year according to Congressional Budget Office projections, which means before anyone has submitted a budget or cast a single vote. Tax and spending changes are then measured off that inflated baseline, not in absolute terms.

The most absurd current example is Mr. Obama's claim that his "$4 trillion" plan reduces the deficit by about $800 billion over 10 years by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But those "savings," as he calls them, are measured against a White House budget office spending baseline that is fictional. Those wars are already being unwound and everyone knows the money will never be spent. But they are called "savings" to gull the public and make the deficit reduction add up to a large-sounding $4 trillion.

The baseline scam also exists in many states, and no less a Democrat than New York Governor Andrew Cuomo denounced it in 2011 as a "sham" and "deceptive." He wrote in the New York Post that state spending was "dictated by hundreds of rates and formulas that are marbleized throughout New York State laws that govern different programs—formulas that have been built into the law over decades, without regard to fiscal realities, performance or accountability." Then he proceeded to continue baseline budgeting.

In Washington, Democrats designed this system to make it easier to defend annual spending increases and to portray any reduction in the baseline as a spending "cut." Chris Wallace called Timothy Geithner on this "gimmick" on "Fox News Sunday" this week, only to have the Treasury Secretary insist it's real.

Republicans used to object to this game, but in recent years they seem to have given up. In an October 2010 speech at the American Enterprise Institute, House Speaker Boehner proposed that "we ought to start at square one" and rewrite the 1974 budget act. But he then dropped the idea, and in the current debate the GOP is putting itself at a major disadvantage by negotiating off the phony baseline. In a press release Tuesday, his own office advertised the need for "spending cuts" that aren't even cuts.

If Republicans really want to slow the growth in spending, they need to stop playing by Beltway rules and start explaining to America why Mr. Obama keeps saying he's cutting spending even as spending and deficits keep going up and up and up.
5259  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics - Generational Idiocy on: December 05, 2012, 11:18:04 AM
A letter to the editor published after the election in Barrons:

    A Warm Thank You

    To the Editor:

    This 50-something, white, conservative Republican wishes to thank America’s youth for sacrificing their financial futures and standard of living so that boomers, such as my wife and I, can look forward to a long and comfy retirement, which we could easily have afforded on our own. Now we have the youth as our guarantors and providers of a little something extra.

    As reported by the national exit poll conducted by Edison Research, Americans aged 18 to 29 voted 60% to 36% for Barack Obama. Prior to Obama’s re-election, I believed that it was morally wrong for my generation to pass a crushing national debt on to the next one.

    The debt will top $20 trillion before Obama moves out of the White House, and it will include spiraling retirement-related costs that the administration has shown zero interest in bringing under control, largely driven by baby boomers piling into the Social Security and Medicare systems.

    With the president’s electoral crushing of Mitt Romney, my overriding sense of morality and guilt have vanished. Thank you, kids!

    Edwin D. Schindler

    Woodbury, N.Y.
5260  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi, Susan Rice's Talking Points - Where did they come from? on: December 05, 2012, 11:14:54 AM
Tuesday, September 18, just a week after the attack and two days after Rice’s appearance, on the "Late Show With David Letterman."

LETTERMAN: Now, I don’t understand, um, the ambassador to Libya killed in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi. Is this an act of war? Are we at war now? What happens here?

OBAMA: Here's what happened. ... You had a video that was released by somebody who lives here, sort of a shadowy character who -- who made an extremely offensive video directed at -- at Mohammed and Islam --

LETTERMAN: Making fun of the Prophet Mohammed.

OBAMA: Making fun of the Prophet Mohammed. And so, this caused great offense in much of the Muslim world. But what also happened, extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the one, the consulate in Libya.

(Quotes from RCP:

That makes two people, high up, who knew better, intentionally misleading the American people, for purely political purposes, not fit to be American Secretary of State - or any other high office.

Don't tell me what she said falsely on 5 talk shows didn't come directly from the White House.
5261  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The United Nations/ US Sovereignty/International Law on: December 05, 2012, 11:04:37 AM
Morris: "We have got to defeat [ratification of] all these [UN] treaties."

The secessionist movement should have begun with disbanding or leaving the UN as we know it.  The UN with one 'nation' one vote, that includes all dictatorships and Kleptocracies, should be for talk, and not US hosted or sponsored.  An organization of like minded democracies with some sense of proportion should be formed for negotiating treaties.
5262  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, Friedman on: December 05, 2012, 10:57:24 AM
From the piece, "One settler leader told me the biggest problem in the West Bank today is “traffic jams.” "

Tom Friedman can't resist putting things back on Israel, 'a rising group of far-right settler-activists'... 'plans to build a huge block of settlements in the heart of the West Bank' etc.  Why not put it back on the enemies of Israel that the result of decades of pursuing destruction and refusing to negotiate peace in good faith is Jewish-Israeli traffic jams in the contested West Bank.

Israel is doing quite well while their enemies seem to have trouble recognizing failure.

Yes, Friedman's sense of history here and his construction of the three models is quite good.
5263  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff): Bob Costas anti-gun rant on: December 04, 2012, 04:00:15 PM
Here's the video of what he said on the NFL halftime show:

"If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."

Costas' former broadcast partner disagrees.

5264  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tea Party related matters on: December 04, 2012, 02:35:29 PM
Another point within the fiscal cliff options that the Republican House faces I will stick here.  To the extent that elected Republicans vote for Obama Democrat policies in order to be more liked in Washington and in media, we will see more and more bitter challenges come within the Republican party.   From that we will see more not-ready-for-prime-time candidates winning endorsement (Todd Aiken etc) screwing up their own race and others with it.

To the extent that elected Republicans merge their proven skills of getting elected with all that is good about tea party principles, from my point of view we have a strong chance to win the next off-year election in the House and perhaps many, many more.
5265  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: December 04, 2012, 01:31:04 PM
... congressional Republicans should bear the brunt of the blame, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll...

If Republicans hold to their principals, they risk losing the House in 2014.  If they don't, they lose the House now.
5266  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: Surprising (lol)Media Bias discovered in the Fiscal Cliff Coverage on: December 04, 2012, 01:25:46 PM
The forum has more diversity of political thought than the top three television broadcast news networks combined.  (Excerpt)

ABC World News with Diane Sawyer continues to tout the Obama Administration’s spin that tax hikes on the wealthy are the only solution to the looming “fiscal cliff” catastrophe. According to an analysis from the Media Research Center’s Business and Media Institute, in the three weeks following President Obama’s re-election, World News devoted more than 10 minutes 18 seconds to talk of tax hikes and just 35 seconds to spending cuts (a 17-1 margin).

NBC Nightly News discussed taxes more than twice as often as spending (4 minutes 23 seconds to 1 minute 47 seconds.), while CBS Evening News gave tax hikes only three more minutes of coverage (14 minutes 5 seconds to 10 minutes 12 seconds). However, more than a third of CBS’s spending cut coverage total comes from one story detailing the horrific downside of spending cuts.

ABC was by far the worst offender, refusing to even entertain spending cuts as a viable solution to the Obama Administration’s crushing budget deficits.
5267  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gvmt spending, deficit, budget: Obama Should Return To Clinton-Era Spending on: December 04, 2012, 01:05:41 PM
More famous people/publications caught reading the forum:

IBD Editorials
Obama Should Return To Clinton-Era Spending Levels

Fiscal Policy: Talk of Clinton-era tax rates ignores the fact that the former president, working with a GOP Congress, cut spending as a share of GDP and produced four balanced budgets by focusing on growth, not spending.

Even as he pushes $150 billion in new "stimulus" spending, President Obama argues that to avoid the fiscal cliff we must return to Clinton-era tax rates for wealthy households, with a top marginal rate of 39.6% vs. the Bush-era 35%. Clinton's was an age of balanced budgets and economic growth.

But it was also an era of budgetary restraint in which both parties, not just the GOP, still produced budgets.

It was one, too, in which a Republican Congress led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich produced welfare reform, killed the precursor to cap and trade — Bill Clinton's BTU tax — and stopped ObamaCare's predecessor, HillaryCare, dead in its tracks.

As the Cato Institute's Steve H. Hanke points out, when President Clinton took office in 1993, government expenditures were 22.1% of GDP. When he departed in 2000, the federal government's share of the economy had been squeezed to a low of 18.2%, a decline of 3.9 percentage points. No other modern president has even come close (see table).

Under Clinton, federal spending averaged 19.8% of GDP. In contrast, spending under Obama over the past four years has averaged 24.4% of GDP.

Revenues from Clinton-era tax rates were actually used to pay down the national debt and produce four successive budget surpluses. Obama's tax increases will simply fund new spending.

The spending restraint of the Clinton/Gingrich era was so successful and disciplined that it led President Clinton in his January 1996 State of the Union address to proclaim that "the era of big government is over." In contrast, President Obama has argued that "the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little."

Not only has he increased total welfare spending by $193 billion since taking office, he has also ballooned the number of food stamp recipients to more than 47 million and actively worked to dismantle the 1996 welfare reform act by neutering its work requirement through executive order.

Obama's first stimulus bill included funding to help states pay for additional welfare recipients and eliminated many of the incentives that encouraged states to reduce their welfare rolls. More recently, the Obama administration announced plans to waive many of welfare reform's work requirements.

Now ObamaCare threatens to increase health care costs while increasing Medicaid's burden on the states.

Of course, President Clinton benefited from President Ronald Reagan's tax cuts, which unleashed the dot-com boom and a period of unparalleled technological creativity and development.

During this boom, the economy grew by one-third and tax receipts doubled as we added the equivalent of the West German economy to our own.

Clearly tax cuts combined with spending cuts work, as does encouraging and rewarding entrepreneurship and not punishing and demonizing success. When government sucks all the economic oxygen out of the room, it becomes hard for real job creators to breathe.

Obama has been very selective in his admiration of the Clinton era. Adopt the spending levels and restraint,Mr. President, not the tax rates.
5268  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues - content sharing on: December 04, 2012, 12:56:21 PM
Content sharing, in excerpts, with major media on the forum is mutual - for the record.  We normally give credit.  They rarely do.

DougMacG, DBMA public forum
December 03, 2012, posted 10:11:17 AM »
"At an interagency teleconference in late April [1994], Susan Rice, a rising star on the NSC who worked under Richard Clarke, stunned a few of the officials present when she asked, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?”

December 3, 2012, posted 7:23 p.m.
"At an interagency teleconference in late April [1994]," Ms. Rice "stunned a few officials present when she asked, 'If we use the word "genocide" and are seen as doing nothing, what will the effect be on the November [congressional] election?'
5269  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: December 04, 2012, 01:06:21 AM
This matter of massive defense cuts as part of the cliff is far too important to be forgotten in frustrated petulance...

The thing with the defense cuts is that Obama is President for the next 4 years.  Defense cuts weaken our country but we just did that anyway. 

A conservative view of defense is that we could be mean, scary, well-armed and still spend a lot less - through deterrence and more selective use of our forces.  I am more interventionist but the country right now is not.  Call it Iraq war fatigue. 

The Clinton mistake was to gut intelligence.  Gutting intelligence is stupid - no pun intended.

The other part of willingness to go over the fiscal cliff (back to tax policy themes) is that higher taxes is what people get for choosing to go down Obama Avenue.  Big government costs big money.  Not just for the guy behind the tree.  Big cradle to grave, life of Julia, government will cost you and your family big money and here is your new bill.

If Obama refuses to budge on the budget deal, R's can refuse to budge on debt ceiling appeasement.  Vote present - vote no.  They say default but I say it means an instantly balanced budget.  Bigger spending cuts than a libertarian-conservative's wildest dream.  And it will all be Obama's fault.

There go the Obama second term initiatives (and first term programs like Obamacare) right down the drain - QE3,4,5 and everything else.  He keeps Air Force One, the golf membership, Supreme Court appointments, and that's about it.

"The Reps have utterly failed to have a sound bite answer to the sound bite question, What the hell is wrong to going back to the Clinton era tax rates?"

Maybe so for them, but you and I have answered that. a) We aren't competing in a 1990's global economy anymore. b) There are many many many other new taxes. c) There are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of new regulations that cripple production enacted since the 1990s that go beyond explicit taxation.  d) Doesn't it follow that we also could go back to Clinton Gingrich SPENDING LEVELS?!  The point of the fiscal cliff is the deficit and the deficit is ALL about spending.  Maybe Clinton (or Eisenhower) had spending levels right.

e) Posted earlier, Did ANYONE notice that the UK lost 60% of its millionaires in one year by bumping up the tax rate.  Static scoring is the biggest economic lie of our collective lifetimes.

Revenues to the US Treasury doubled in the 1980s when the top rate fell from 70% to 28% and the number of millionaires in the UK dropped by 60% in one year with falling revenues when the tax rate on millionaires went up 10%. 

Do retailers bring in more people and more revenue than ever before on Black Friday by raising prices or by having sales?  Ask them.

This should not be that hard to communicate.
5270  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: December 03, 2012, 05:39:46 PM
Mitch Daniels is the latest to point to the 47% remark as the problem.  I thought there would be a constant drip of these clandestine gaffe releases and there wasn't. Romney should have reacted strongly to correct that to what it was and let it be more than that.

This was the biggest turning point of the 2012 campaign, totally unmentioned by all the professional analysts: NFIB v Sebelius, the Roberts decision on Obamacare.

Strike that down and Romney could point out the difference between a Massachusetts plan and a federal takeover of healthcare - one was constitutional, one wasn't.  One man who hinted that America could just strike it down in the election removed the entire argument, that his signature achievement was unconstitutional, from the Presidential campaign.

(Side note: I will read this holiday season what I was too angry to read last summer, the decision in its entirety, and hope to discuss it in detail over on the constitutional thread if anyone else is interested.)

5271  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: December 03, 2012, 05:31:18 PM
"Give Buraq everything he asks for. Vote present."

They can vote no on bad ideas.  They can go with stupidity about 2% up for income over a million and let those chips fall.  The GOP House IMO cannot cross the line very far to support what they do not support.  There is not much downside IMO for them using hard negotiations now at the fiscal cliff and during the debt ceiling crisis coming in only a month or two.  If spending cuts are not going to happen, then tax rates going up for everyone as a consequence.  Who is the party of bigger spending, bigger government, healthcare takeover and a bigger share of everyone's  income going to pay for the high cost of bigger and bigger government?  Not the GOP.  Especially not the Republican House if they passed a number of better options that died in the Dem Senate or on the President's desk. 
5272  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Susan Rice, continued on: December 03, 2012, 10:11:17 AM
"At an interagency teleconference in late April [1994], Susan Rice, a rising star on the NSC who worked under Richard Clarke, stunned a few of the officials present when she asked, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?”

 - 'Bystanders to Genocide', by Samantha Power, Sept 2001, Atlantic Magazine
5273  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy - Simpson Bowles on: December 03, 2012, 10:05:04 AM
One excerpt on taxes:

    RECOMMENDATION 2.1: ENACT FUNDAMENTAL TAX REFORM BY 2012 TO LOWER RATES, REDUCE DEFICITS, AND SIMPLIFY THE CODE. Eliminate all income tax expenditures [deductions and other tax preferences], dedicate a portion of the additional revenue to deficit reduction, and use the remaining revenue to lower rates and add back necessary expenditures and credits.

    A “zero plan” could reduce income tax rates to as low as 8%, 14%, and 23%. Even after adding back a number of larger tax expenditures, rates would still remain significantly lower than under current law.

Link again:

Another clause:

2.2.2  Eliminate all tax expenditures for businesses. Corporate tax reform should eliminate special subsidies for different industries. By eliminating business tax expenditures – currently more than 75 – the corporate tax rate can be significantly reduced while contributing to deficit reduction. A lower overall tax rate will improve American business competitiveness. Abolishing special subsidies will also create an even playing field for all businesses instead of artificially picking winners and losers.
5274  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government programs, spending, deficit, budget: Simpson-Bowles on: December 03, 2012, 09:59:09 AM
For the record, Alan Simpson was a moderate Republican as a Senator, Erskine Bowles was Clinton's Chief of Staff; the commission was appointed by (first term) Pres. Barack Obama and the results were totally ignored.

One simple excerpt on spending:

RECOMMENDATION 1.1: CAP DISCRETIONARY SPENDING THROUGH 2020. Hold spending in 2012 equal to or lower than spending in 2011, and return spending to pre-crisis 2008 levels in real terms in 2013. Limit future spending growth to half the projected inflation rate through 2020.

This is not rocket science, people.  Put SOME limit on spending.
5275  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy in the UK: Income tax rates rose and revenues fell on: December 03, 2012, 09:47:18 AM
What does Warren Buffet (and Barack Obama) say to THIS?

New data on tax hikes - from Britain: The tax went from 40% to 50% on millionaires in one year.  The total number of millionaire tax filers plunged 60% to 6,000 in 2010-2011, from 16,000 in 2009-2010.

(Next year we can post similar data for California.)

Mr. Buffet, incentives and disincentives matter!

Does this business genius ever advertise that his flagship Geico brings in more customers and more revenues because of higher prices ... in 15 minutes or less we'll raise your cost of car insurance?

Britain's Missing Millionaires
Income tax rates rise but revenues fall.

A funny thing often happens on the way to soaking the rich: They don't stick around for the bath. Take Britain, where Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs service reports that the number of taxpayers declaring £1 million a year in income fell by more than 60% in fiscal 2010-2011 from the year before.

That was the year that millionaires became liable for the 50% income-tax rate that Gordon Brown's government introduced in its final days in 2010, up from the previous 40% rate. Lo, the total number of millionaire tax filers plunged to 6,000 in 2010-2011, from 16,000 in 2009-2010.

The new tax was meant to raise about £2.5 billion more revenue. So much for that. In 2009-2010 British millionaires contributed about £13.4 billion to the public coffers, or just under 9% of the total tax liability of all taxpayers that year. At the 50% rate, the shrunken pool yielded £6.5 billion, or about 4.4%.

The British press is abuzz with the notion that 10,000 millionaires left the country in the interim, and no doubt some did make for their chalets in Gstaad. Others may have brought forward more income in 2009-2010, knowing the higher rate was on its way. No doubt, too, the overall lousy economy took its toll.

Prime Minister David Cameron decided earlier this year to lower the 50% rate to 45%, meaning we may see at least some of the millionaires return to the U.K. But the figures are another reminder that incentives matter.

Politicians would love to lay the whole burden of their policies on a tiny minority of the rich, but you can't finance the welfare state on the shoulders of the 1%. That's something for the U.S. to remember as President Obama pretends he can fill a $1 trillion budget hole with tax hikes on "millionaires and billionaires."
5276  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bill Whittle on Why Romney Lost and How to Win... on: December 03, 2012, 09:27:33 AM
This is absolutely on-target.  Whittle is one of the wisest conservative voices out there, IMHO:

Obj,  Bill Whittle IS excellent. Wow. Thank you for great post!  I wrote some time ago that what Republicans and conservative need to win is clarity.  Bill Whittle exudes clarity while our candidates exude meandering thoughts and muddled messages.
5277  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the left: Robert Reich - How to make things worse on: December 02, 2012, 11:46:19 AM
In the interest of political economic diversity on the forum I continue to post things that make no sense to me from writers like Krugman and Reich...

Wal-Mart and McDonald’s: What’s wrong with U.S. employment
The walkouts were no coincidence. Low wages are strangling the economy, and Washington needs to pay attention
By Robert Reich

No.  Washington and other meddling governments are the cause.  Low wages are market wages when there is a dearth of successful new startups or existing companies flourishing to compete for the services of these workers.

'Entry level' jobs are intended for entry level workers, or people who earn only a portion of the money in a multi- income household. 

"These workers are not teenagers. Most have to support their families."

Flipping fast food burgers and working the drive up window does not raise a family, allow your wife to stay home with the children or put the kids through college.  That doesn't mean there is something wrong with having a first job, a first rung on the economic ladder, making the second, third and fourth rungs each an easier step.  What is wrong is that someone removed the ladder - by implementing the big government, private strangulation policies of Robert Reich, Paul Krugman, Barack Obama et al.

"More than 46 million Americans now live below the poverty line."

MILLIONS more than that are underemployed, unemployed or spome other form of just not working.  We are pursuing 'fairness' at the expense of lost national prosperity and lost economic opportunity.  That said, "poverty" as measured by the Census Bureau is a false measure and does not count most of their transfer payment income.

Startups in America are occurring at the lowest rate in 40 years.  I don't suppose 47,000 new regulations in the last 47 months and new taxes impending on everyone and everything has anything to do with that.

"Organizing makes economic sense."

Force someone to pay you more than you are worth to the enterprise, or put them out of business, is the answer of the left.  Not for these people to rise up freely and contribute to the economy with more valuable and productive work.

"wage gains are likely to come out of profits...That wouldn’t be such a bad thing."

To the Professor of Public Policy at Berkeley:  It will result in even fewer jobs, you birdbrain.  Non-performing restaurants CLOSE!  Potential new businesses projected to never provide a healthy return on investment simply don't open.  Take a look around.
5278  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / UN Palestine recognition a violation of Oslo Accords? on: December 02, 2012, 11:11:30 AM
Is the UN birth certificate for 'Palestine' a violation of the Oslo accords?  Will the UN pass a resolution to condemn this action?
Ya’alon (Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister) said the move was “a flagrant violation of the Oslo agreement,” and was “geared toward avoiding entering talks” with Israel.
5279  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Newt Gingrich on: December 01, 2012, 11:23:41 AM
"At any point they wanted to, the President and the Congress could reduce the "cliff" to a series of foothills by breaking the problem into ten or twenty component parts."

Isn't that exactly what you do when you have a seemingly insurmountable large task at hand.  Democrats are doing the opposite, focusing only on the one part that can't be done and wouldn't solve the problem if it could.

Negotiating is important, roughly 5th on the priority list far behind legislating a solution and communicating.
Going through some papers yesterday I came across a yellowed out clipping of the actual text of the Contract with America, in small print from page 20 of the local paper Sunday before the 1994 election - far better coverage than any Republican proposal has gotten since.  I pulled out a magnifying glass and read to see if anything that should have been done then would have prevented the situation today.  I has two lists, first what they will do immediately the first day and second list of what they will bring to a vote in the first 100 days:

From the first list:

• SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
• EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.

Both I suppose would have to be in the constitution to be binding on future congresses, but both in actual practice would make the faux negotiations we face today moot.

First on the 100 day list: 1. THE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT: A balanced budget/tax limitation amendment..."

That alone, ratified back then, would have removed the need for all future debt ceiling crises, credit downgrades and fiscal cliffs.
5280  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Susan Rice on: November 30, 2012, 12:03:35 PM
I heard today that Rice was the one responsible for passing on the Sudanese offer years ago to hand over Bin Laden.  Is this accurate?

I would think the timing on that is close.  Possible that she would be advising on that decision and that we will never know.  Maybe she advised yes on the aspirin factory bombing.  Did they intend to hit him then or was that really the distraction alleged from the Monica Lewinsky story? I Haven't read any Clinton staff autobiographies.  My interests lie more with non-fiction.  )
5281  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dissonance on the left: Susan Rice owns the Canadian Keystone pipeline firm on: November 30, 2012, 11:53:54 AM

Liberals blast Susan Rice's 'outrageous' investments in Canadian pipeline firm
By Julian Pecquet - 11/30/12 10:48 AM ET

A liberal group launched an online petition Friday demanding that potential secretary of State nominee Susan Rice divest herself of “every dollar of stock” in the Canadian company seeking approval for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline to the Gulf Coast.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations owns between $300,000 and $600,000 in TransCanada Corp. stock, according to her financial disclosure forms. The pipeline needs approval from the State Department before it can go forward.
5282  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security: Gitmo North coming to western Illinois - ?? on: November 30, 2012, 11:50:48 AM
Gitmo North Returns: Obama's Shady Prison Deal

Michelle Malkin   Nov 30, 2012

Gitmo North Returns: Obama's Shady Prison Deal

If you thought President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder had given up on closing Guantanamo Bay and bringing jihadists to American soil, think again. Two troubling developments on the Gitmo front should have every American on edge.

The first White House maneuver took place in October, while much of the public and the media were preoccupied with election news. On Oct. 2, Obama's cash-strapped Illinois pals announced that the federal government bought out the Thomson Correctional Center in western Illinois for $165 million. According to, a recent appraisal put the value of the facility at $220 million.

Democratic Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin led the lobbying campaign for the deal, along with Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who is overseeing an overall $43 billion state budget deficit and scraping for every available penny. The Thomson campus has been an empty Taj Mahal for more than a decade because profligate state officials had no money for operations. Economic development gurus (using the same phony math of federal stimulus peddlers) claim the newly federalized project will bring in $1 billion.

Durbin told a local Illinois paper that "the decision to move ahead came directly from President Barack Obama" and that he had secured the green light during a discussion on Air Force One earlier in the spring. But this gift to Obama's Illinois homeboys wasn't just a run-of-the-mill campaign favor.

Obama's unilateral and unprecedented decision steamrolled over bipartisan congressional opposition to the purchase. That opposition dates back to 2009, when the White House first floated the idea of using Thomson to house jihadi enemy combatants detained in Cuba. As you may recall, the scheme caused a national uproar. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department's budget, blocked the administration from using unspent DOJ funds for the deal. With bipartisan support, Congress passed a law barring the transfer of Gitmo detainees to Thomson or any other civilian prison.

The message was clear: Taxpayers don't want manipulative Gitmo detainees or their three-ring circuses of transnationalist sympathizers and left-wing lawyers on American soil. Period.

But when this imperial presidency can't get its way in the court of public opinion, it simply circumvents the deliberative process. As Wolf noted: The shady deal "directly violates the clear objection of the House Appropriations Committee and goes against the bipartisan objections of members in the House and Senate, who have noted that approving this request would allow Thomson to take precedence over previously funded prisons in Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia and New Hampshire."

Obama and his Illinois gang insist that Thomson will not become Gitmo North. But denial is more than a river in the Muslim Brotherhood's homeland.

The 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America, which spearheaded the movement against shipping jihadi detainees to the mainland, exposed the fine print of the Obama DOJ's deal with the state of Illinois. The purpose of the Thomson facility acquisition, according to the DOJ notice filed in the D.C. courts, included this clause:

"... as well as to provide humane and secure confinement of individuals held under authority of any Act of Congress, and such other persons as in the opinion of the Attorney General of the United States are proper subjects for confinement in such institutions."

Guess whom that covers? Yup: Gitmo detainees, who are being held under the 2001 congressional act known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Now, bear all this in mind as you consider the second and more recent Gitmo gambit. On Wednesday, in response to a whistleblowing report from Fox News homeland security reporter Catherine Herridge, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., released a General Accounting Office report exploring the feasibility of transferring the Gitmo gang to civilian prisons.

Lo and behold, Feinstein concluded, the report "demonstrates that if the political will exists, we could finally close Guantanamo without imperiling our national security."

The "political will" does not exist now, nor has it ever. But thanks to Obama's sneaky, back-door misappropriation of government funds to buy Thomson, the feds have exactly what they need to fulfill the progressive-in-chief's Gitmo closure promise: a shiny, turnkey palace in crony land tailor-made for union workers, lawyers and terror plotters to call their new home.
5283  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Timely Reminder: Congress shall assemble at least once in every year on: November 30, 2012, 11:44:22 AM
Just in case our limited government zeal becomes so extreme and that our very few and simple laws, taxes and regulations are successfully in place, working as intended, with consent of the governed, and in case Congress is tempted to not meet at all during the year, the constitution requires:

"The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day."

I think the framers envisioned a smaller government than what we got.

5284  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / George Will: A Cliff of Their Own Choosing on: November 30, 2012, 10:07:56 AM
Some excellent points made by George Will including this one similar to one I believe Crafty already articulated on the forum: " restoration of the Clinton-era top rate of 39.6 percent would occur in the very different Obama era of regulatory excesses and Obamacare taxes"

A cliff of their own choosing

By George F. Will, Published: November 28

With a chip on his shoulder larger than his margin of victory, Barack Obama is approaching his second term by replicating the mistake of his first. Then his overreaching involved health care — expanding the entitlement state at the expense of economic growth. Now he seeks another surge of statism, enlarging the portion of gross domestic product grasped by government and dispensed by politics. The occasion is the misnamed “fiscal cliff,” the proper name for which is: the Democratic Party’s agenda.

For 40 years the party’s principal sources of energy and money — liberal activists, government-employees unions — have advocated expanding government’s domestic reach by raising taxes and contracting its foreign reach by cutting defense. Obama’s four years as one of the most liberal senators and his four presidential years indicate that he agrees. Like other occasionally numerate but prudently reticent liberals, he surely understands that the entitlement state he favors requires raising taxes on the cohort that has most of the nation’s money — the middle class.

Mitt Romney as candidate and others before and since have suggested increasing revenue by capping income tax deductions. This would increase that tax’s progressivity, without raising rates that would dampen incentives. Obama’s compromise may be: Let’s do both. Remember the story of when the British Admiralty sought six new battleships, the Treasury proposed four, so they compromised on eight.

Those proposing higher taxes on the wealthy note that when the income tax began in 1913, the top rate was 7 percent. But in 1917, war brought a 67 percent rate. Between 1925 and 1931, the rate was 24 percent or 25 percent, but in only five of the subsequent 80 years — 1988-92 — was the top rate lower than it is today.

Republicans, however, respond that because lower rates reduce incentives to distort economic decisions, they promote growth by enhancing efficiency. Hence restoration of the higher rates would be a giant step away from, and might effectively doom, pro-growth tax reform. Furthermore, restoration of the Clinton-era top rate of 39.6 percent would occur in the very different Obama era of regulatory excesses and Obamacare taxes. Hence Republicans rightly resist higher rates.

Given liberals’ fixation with the affluent paying their “fair share,” it might seem peculiar that they are so vehemently against Paul Ryan’s “premium support” proposal for Medicare. Their recoil is, however, essential to the liberal project.

Ryan’s supposedly radical idea is that people should shop for health insurance, with government subsidizing purchases by the less affluent. This would introduce what soon will be inevitable — means testing, a.k.a. progressivity. But liberals reject it with a word, the incantation of which suffices, they think, as an argument — “voucher.”

This is peculiar because perhaps the most successful federal program of the 20th century was essentially a voucher program. The purpose of the 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act — a.k.a. the G.I. Bill of Rights — was to facilitate demobilization by helping men and women acquire educations and buy houses — and hence form families. The government did not build universities or houses. It, in effect, gave individuals conditional cash — vouchers — by helping to pay for home loans and college tuition.

Liberals’ strenuous objection to vouchers is that vouchers, as the functional equivalent of cash, empower individuals to make choices. It is the business of the liberals’ administrative state, staffed by experts, to make choices for inexpert individuals. This is why, while Democrats in Washington are working to reduce the portion of Americans’ private income that is disposed of by private choices, two tentacles of the Democratic Party — the Indiana and Louisiana teachers unions — are in their states’ courts waging futile fights against school choice programs, lest thousands of low- and moderate-income parents be as empowered as millions of demobilized servicemen were.

Washington’s contentiousness about the “cliff” is producing a blizzard of numbers. The argument, however, is not about this or that tax rate but about the nature of the American regime. When the Republican House majority acts as though it has a mind — and a mandate — of its own, this is not Washington being “dysfunctional,” it is the separation of powers functioning as the Founders intended. Their system requires concurrent congressional majorities — one in the Senate, with its unique constituencies and electoral rhythms, another in the House, with its constituencies and rhythms. And at least 219 of the 234 House Republicans won in November by margins larger than Obama’s national margin.
5285  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: 10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free on: November 30, 2012, 09:38:07 AM

A very interesting piece.  Surprising to me that a list of lost freedoms only includes those lost as a result of us being under attack by Islamic terrorism, with no alternative offered as to how to protect ourselves without these losses of freedoms.

"If a president can take away your freedom or your life on his own authority, all rights become little more than a discretionary grant subject to executive will."

Law enforcement as we knew it, innocent until proven guilty with prosecution after the crime occurs, does not work against suicide bombers and planned acts of war.  Did founders like George Washington have his troops hold fire in war until after each target had the right to a speedy trial and to confront his accusers?

If my cell number is found in a killed Afghan terrorist's speed dial, I expect some surveillance on me until my innocence becomes clear.  That is actually a gain not a loss of freedom IMHO.

"President Obama has claimed, as President George W. Bush did before him, the right to order the killing of any citizen considered a terrorist or an abettor of terrorism. Last year, he approved the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaqi and another citizen under this claimed inherent authority. Last month, administration officials affirmed that power, stating that the president can order the assassination of any citizen whom he considers allied with terrorists. (Nations such as Nigeria, Iran and Syria have been routinely criticized for extrajudicial killings of enemies of the state.)"

Does the power to kill a terrorist, a planner of war and attacks against the United States, operating in Yemen make us akin to Syria, Iran or Nigeria?  Good grief.

Sudarsan, Raghavan; Michael D. Shear (December 25, 2009). "U.S.-aided attack in Yemen thought to have killed Aulaqi, 2 al-Qaeda leaders". The Washington Post.
Usborne, David; The Centre for Social Cohesion, a British think-tank (April 8, 2010). "Obama orders US-born cleric to be shot on sight". London: The Independent.
Newton, Paula (March 10, 2010). "Purported al-Awlaki message calls for jihad against US". CNN. Archived from the original on April 19, 2010.
Scott Shane and Robert Worth, "Challenge Heard on Move to Kill Qaeda-Linked Cleric", The New York Times, November 8, 2010.

Meanwhile we have lost the right to work, to keep fruits of our labor, to save, to invest, to hire, to choose our healthcare, to grow wheat or open a lemon stand on our property, but no mention within this author's '10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free'.  Topics for another thread perhaps.
5286  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: November 30, 2012, 08:47:43 AM
"But if raising taxes would lead us toward trouble, why would raising taxes only on some people ("the rich") not have some of the same harmful effect?"

Rand Paul has this right.
Elections have consequences.  Obama held the White House, but he failed to win crucial coattails even with his miraculous turnout operation.  House Republicans hold the important trump cards.  They can pass their own balanced measure that meets all the criteria and ought to be acceptable to Democrats and then hold firm.  If and when Democrats fail to join and everyone's taxes skyrocket, Republicans can make it clear that full tax reform - for everyone, retroactive to the first - is always on the table for Democrats to join and enact.  Same goes for either comprehensive or piecemeal spending and entitlement reforms.

"All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives..."  This isn't a Republican stand; it's a clause in the constitution.  

"Buraq wants us to go over the cliff."

The President chickened out the last time (last two times?) he stood at the precipice.  For better or for worse, this economy is the Obama economy.  They didn't call the 90s the Gingrich economy.  President Obama owns it.  The Republican House was a direct result of his governance in general and Democrat overreach on health care in particular.  People chose this President but importantly they also chose his opposition for majority in the House as a check and balance against his ability to enact the policies of his choosing.  He can succeed or fail as a uniter and as a leader.  There are plenty of revenue enhancers on the table from the Republicans and there are at this late date still no real domestic program or transfer payment cuts on the table from the President or Democrats.

At the end the President can say that he upset both Republicans and Democrats to make a deal.  Voters love that and popularity equals ability to govern going forward.  Just ask George Bush.

Mr. President, make a deal, take a deal or bring us all to failure.  This is all on your watch.
5287  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science on: November 30, 2012, 07:57:16 AM
The points in the article are interesting to me, important considerations for awareness going forward.  They do not override the competing case, that to not produce our energy means unaffordable energy contributing to other problems like uncompetitive manufacturing, imbalance of trade in the trillions with resulting effects on our currency, increased need for redistribution and big government because of widespread energy unaffordability.  Foremost, to not produce our own energy means to have the fascist forces of our government override the freedoms of our enterprise.  Not to mention making places like the Straits of Hormuz and people like the Mullahs and Chavezes of the world crucial to our economic survival.  Not an optimal situation, as the President said about 4 dead Americans in oil producing Libya.

My understanding is that fracking and shale oil and oils sands development came about because of artificially high prices on oil.  Saudi oil (and Alaskan oil, Venezuelan) is still cheaper to produce.  Those sources will always have a cost and price advantage even if they run the rest of their economy miserably.

Energy independence is not the term for what we need; it's more like energy balance.  We export a lot of energy now but import far more.  The goal IMO is just to get production totals more in line with consumption requirements.  When that becomes true we will have a neutral effect on world prices as both a producer and a consumer, and an importer and exporter of energy.  Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Emirates, etc. do not have to go broke as the oil price stabilize under $100 nor does their product become obsolete.  (Nor do we have to stop being their ally.) US production will not push prices to zero nor to a level below their cost basis. 

With increased US production these 'allies' in the Middle East will still face the same cultural/economic challenge they always faced, to build out the rest of their economy producing something of value more than just oil.  Same is true for Mexico, Canada, Houston and the people of Williston ND.
5288  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / re. the attack on Amb. Susan Rice on: November 29, 2012, 07:09:48 PM
"The key difference was that we had good intel that Iraq had WMD, while the lies about Benghazi were deliberate and calculated.  Something the lefties at Slate know, but don't care about."

Yes, we heard ad nauseam that Bush et al lied, but never to my knowledge was anything ever established to contradict that the best intelligence in the world thought Saddam was close to WMD, used them on the Kurds etc.  AFTER no stockpiles were found Iraq Study Group concluded he was 6-8 years away from nuclear weapons - more than 6-8 years ago.  That means nuclear by now if not for US intervention.

The Rice scandal is two-part.  a) She covered up the tie to terrorism - which she knew.  Others took the blame for removing that from her public report.  b) They completely made up the story about the video and passed that off as what happened when it didn't and she knew it didn't.

I don't see anyone really pressing on point b) and she certainly has not come clean on that publicly.

Sec of State is in the line of order of succession to the Presidency, just ask Alexander Haig.  If you believe what I wrote about duplicity, and I believer it is true, then blocking her potential confirmation makes perfect sense.

She put herself out there for the President politically.  It was a career choice.

Susan Rice was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs when the embassies were bombed.  The sensitivity of the information is something should she have contemplated.

A shrewd move by Pres. Obama would be to make Susan Collins Sec of State.

5289  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: budget process - The House Republicans still hold a few cards on: November 28, 2012, 01:28:52 PM
All the tax pledge and tax hike talk puts a historic choice in front of House Republicans with the expiration of the Bush/Obama rates, the fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling, Obamacare implementation, and the second term of Pres. Barack Obama all coming. 

What should they do?

Posted before, but the size and scope of government is limited to what the lowest of what the three parties, House, Senate and Executive, will support.  The burden is on House Republicans alone to set the limits.

If there is no action on the tax rate extensions, tax rates go up automatically for all.  Republicans oppose that.  What leverage do they have?  For one thing, Democrats oppose that too.

If there is no action on the so-called fiscal cliff it means automatic tax hikes and automatic defense cuts and other automatic spending cuts.  Republicans oppose that, but how worse is that to signing on to the agenda of the Democrats?  We don't need as much military spending right now if we are going to pull back for 4 years.  Call that bluff?

Next comes the perpetually scheduled debt ceiling hike.  Republicans have leverage there only if they are able to say no.  What if they did say no?  What kind of organization has no survival plan for the possibility that their bank will not raise their credit limit when it is maxed out for the umpteenth time?  Federal spending including interest on the debt would instantly be limited to federal revenues.  Say it isn't so!  Isn't that what a balanced budget amendment would require anyway?  We aren't in an economic crisis.  This economy, this stagnation and this unemployment is the new normal for the poicies we are choosing.

Maybe House Republicans can steal away the initiative with bold proposals.  They could require full scale tax reform as part of any revenue increase, agree to maintain current progressivity but insist on dynamic scoring and an end to baseline budgeting.  They could insist on repeal of Humphrey Hawkins, the legislation that mandated the 'dual role' of the Fed.  If the endpoint of budget negotiations is a responsible fiscal policy, then we don't need a 4th year of artificial monetary stimulus.  They could insist on a pushback of Obamacare implementation.  They could insist on passage of a 4 year moratorium on new fracking rules or to release new federal lands to energy leases.  They could trade their needed votes on the current budget matters for Democrat votes on a balanced budget amendment that includes a cap on federal spending as a percent of GDP.  The cap in the current bill was written at 18%, a little bit optimistic in current political context.  Move it to 20%, then hold firm for passage in the House and Senate to send to the states.
5290  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Abortion: Safe, Legal and Rare - Whoops on: November 28, 2012, 12:47:43 PM

Planned Parenthood Rushes Woman to Hospital After Botched Abortion

by Steven Ertelt | St. Louis, MO | 11/27/12 1:35 PM

Another Planned Parenthood abortion clinic has been documented rushing a patient to a local hospital following a botched abortion that may have injured her and potentially claimed her life.

A St. Louis Planned Parenthood patient was rushed to a nearby hospital after suffering serious abortion complications the day before Thanksgiving. Paramedics arrived at the abortion clinic at approximately 2:45 p.m. on November 21, 2012, and removed the patient from the building with her face covered with a cloth.

Was the woman (mother) told the procedure was safe, or if she was informed of similar previous disasters at the same clinic?

If the mother's life is in danger BEFORE the procedure, should she go to a Planned Parenthood clinic for a procedure or wouldn't she gostraight to the hospital in the first place??!

Safe, legal and rare was the elected, pro-choice mantra from 20 years ago.  Looks like we got one out of three.
5291  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: November 28, 2012, 12:20:03 PM
We are getting better info here from PP on housing than Wesbury is getting from his sources, Brian Wesbury should join the list of famous people who read the forum.  )

To repeat, the changing median value of new home sales tells us which types of homes are being built, more than it indicates a movement in value.  You can't build low or mid value houses in populated areas because of the depressed value of existing homes for sale.

Sales volume figures get compared with another point in the crisis, a year ago, but the term recovery (not used in this Wesbury piece) means IMO to compare with pre-crisis levels.

For the record, you can buy a 4 bedroom house in the nation's 4th richest metro ( today for $19,900 ( because of the continuing backlog of foreclosed properties. 

We were warned here that "things will not get easier for housing for an extended period of time" more than a year and a half ago by PP:
5292  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: November 28, 2012, 10:28:18 AM
An interesting point, but one that changes constant measuring standard that we use to discuss this number.

I would be inclined to agree with you, but the crucial measuring standard for deficits and surpluses as they accumulate or take from debt owing is the debt ceiling law, which uses the total debt figure.  It is the debt using this measuring standard in federal law that, if not for raising the ceiling, would shut down all deficit spending. 

Treasury Direct displays both measures, at 11.4 (debt held by public excluding intragovernmental holdings) and at 16.3 trillion (total debt):

US Debt clock shows the debt subject to the debt limit and it is approximately same as the total debt, 16+trillion figure:  "This last increase, from $15.194 trillion to $16.394 trillion, was essentially granted in the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, passed August 2 at the culmination of the debt limit debate."

Aside from choosing between two ways to measure, are we better off now than we were 2.1 trillion dollars of unfunded spending ago since the last debt ceiling crisis ended on August 2, 2011?

A few hundred people can say yes, the President and Vice president, the Senate Democrats and the House Republicans all got re-elected.  For the rest of us... no.

5293  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Deficit/budget Fact Check: Bill Clinton (and Newt) Never had a Surplus on: November 27, 2012, 02:35:04 PM
'Clinton balanced the budget.  Turned deficits into a surplus.  Paid down the debt.  Left George Bush with a surplus'  How many times have I heard that?  

Actual figures from:

Fiscal Yr.   Year Ending National Debt      Deficit
FY1993    09/30/1993    $4.411488 trillion   
FY1994    09/30/1994    $4.692749 trillion    $281.26 billion
FY1995    09/29/1995    $4.973982 trillion    $281.23 billion
FY1996    09/30/1996    $5.224810 trillion    $250.83 billion
FY1997    09/30/1997    $5.413146 trillion    $188.34 billion
FY1998    09/30/1998    $5.526193 trillion    $113.05 billion
FY1999    09/30/1999    $5.656270 trillion    $130.08 billion
FY2000    09/29/2000    $5.674178 trillion    $17.91 billion
FY2001    09/28/2001    $5.807463 trillion    $133.29 billion

In no year did the national debt go down, nor did Clinton leave President Bush with a surplus that Bush subsequently turned into a deficit. Yes, the deficit was almost eliminated in FY2000 (ending in September 2000 with a deficit of "only" $17.9 billion), but it never reached zero--let alone a positive surplus number. And Clinton's last budget proposal for FY2001, which ended in September 2001, generated a $133.29 billion deficit. The growing deficits started in the year of the last Clinton budget, not in the first year of the Bush administration.

The difference between surpluses alleged and total debt is what is called Intragovernmental Holdings.  As an example, only if we repealed Social Security could those holdings be released to reduce the total public debt.

$16 trillion, the debt figure that we know today, includes intragovernmental holdings:

Today     Debt Held by the Public   Intragovernmental Holdings  Total Public Debt Outstanding
11/26/2012   11,474,648,831,627.28      4,835,089,224,735.16      16,309,738,056,362.44
5294  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Exit polls on Issues on: November 27, 2012, 02:08:05 PM
Glass half full.  Voters in off-year elections who follow the process more closely choose Republicans.  Voters chose Republicans again for the House of Representatives which was perhaps more issue oriented where the Presidential race was more personal.

Cherry picking some exit poll results for glimmers of hope:

Obamacare: 44% said they believe the program should be expanded or left as it is.  49% said they wanted the program fully repealed or partially repealed.

Income tax rates: 13% of Americans said they favored raising income tax rates for all citizens.  47% said those earning over $250,000 a year should be taxed more.

33% said taxes should be raised to help cut the budget deficit, 63% saying no more taxes.

Size of Government: 43% said government should do more to solve problems.  51% of voters agreed with the statement that “government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.”

Ideology:  41% of Americans said they were moderate, 35% said they were conservative, 25% described themselves as liberal.

Tea Party: 63% of voters say that they either support the tea party or are “neutral” toward it.
5295  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Humor/WTF: German assault with deadly weapon(s) on: November 27, 2012, 11:41:59 AM
An apparently true news story?  Should go in self defense / DLO threads:

"I wanted your death to be as pleasant as possible."
5296  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: November 27, 2012, 11:27:10 AM
"And, wow, do we have plenty to invest. The Forbes 400, the wealthiest individuals in America, hit a new group record for wealth this year: $1.7 trillion"

Cool. So if we take all their assets, we'll cover federal spending this year!

The Chavez plan.  Don't think it wasn't considered.  I would say 5 months and change, one time only.  Then what?

Another measure might be to close all their businesses, cut off all their spending and investing, and see how that affects the incomes of Obama's class warrior voters.
5297  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: November 27, 2012, 11:21:26 AM
Interesting thought Doug, though I suspect that Hamas and Iran had their own agendas as well , , ,

Agree.  Hence their eagerness and willingness to cooperate.
5298  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / No surprise, Warren Buffet Proposes Minimum Tax on the Wealthy on: November 27, 2012, 11:14:38 AM
How about we first establish a MAXIMUM tax of all levels of government, federal, state and local, on any dollar income legally earned in the United States of America.

Secondly, let's pass the Buffet law retroactively and in its implementation prosecute this pretend policy expert for tax evasion.

We are no longer, FYI to Buffet, competing in a 1950s global economy.  .01% of the people paying the top rate, rounded, means that no one in their right mind paid those rates.  We have the highest corporate rates in the world.  Most personal rate analyses exclude that.

Buffet says investors won't pass up an investment because of a tax rate.  More relevant would be to measure what percent and total time and resources producers take away from productive activities to put into high marginal tax rate compliance and avoidance. 

The rate of new business startups is at a 40 year low, taking us back to the Jimmy Carter hangover.  Tax rates are only part of the war against business growth success.  We need far more, not fewer, businesses to start today, tomorrow and the next day and grow into billion dollar businesses, employing thousands and enriching people along the way.  Punishing wealth and achievement does what to further that aim?  NOTHING.

A Minimum Tax for the Wealthy
Published: November 25, 2012

SUPPOSE that an investor you admire and trust comes to you with an investment idea. “This is a good one,” he says enthusiastically. “I’m in it, and I think you should be, too.”

Would your reply possibly be this? “Well, it all depends on what my tax rate will be on the gain you’re saying we’re going to make. If the taxes are too high, I would rather leave the money in my savings account, earning a quarter of 1 percent.” Only in Grover Norquist’s imagination does such a response exist.

Between 1951 and 1954, when the capital gains rate was 25 percent and marginal rates on dividends reached 91 percent in extreme cases, I sold securities and did pretty well. In the years from 1956 to 1969, the top marginal rate fell modestly, but was still a lofty 70 percent — and the tax rate on capital gains inched up to 27.5 percent. I was managing funds for investors then. Never did anyone mention taxes as a reason to forgo an investment opportunity that I offered.

Under those burdensome rates, moreover, both employment and the gross domestic product (a measure of the nation’s economic output) increased at a rapid clip. The middle class and the rich alike gained ground.

So let’s forget about the rich and ultrarich going on strike and stuffing their ample funds under their mattresses if — gasp — capital gains rates and ordinary income rates are increased. The ultrarich, including me, will forever pursue investment opportunities.

And, wow, do we have plenty to invest. The Forbes 400, the wealthiest individuals in America, hit a new group record for wealth this year: $1.7 trillion. That’s more than five times the $300 billion total in 1992. In recent years, my gang has been leaving the middle class in the dust.

A huge tail wind from tax cuts has pushed us along. In 1992, the tax paid by the 400 highest incomes in the United States (a different universe from the Forbes list) averaged 26.4 percent of adjusted gross income. In 2009, the most recent year reported, the rate was 19.9 percent. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

The group’s average income in 2009 was $202 million — which works out to a “wage” of $97,000 per hour, based on a 40-hour workweek. (I’m assuming they’re paid during lunch hours.) Yet more than a quarter of these ultrawealthy paid less than 15 percent of their take in combined federal income and payroll taxes. Half of this crew paid less than 20 percent. And — brace yourself — a few actually paid nothing.

This outrage points to the necessity for more than a simple revision in upper-end tax rates, though that’s the place to start. I support President Obama’s proposal to eliminate the Bush tax cuts for high-income taxpayers. However, I prefer a cutoff point somewhat above $250,000 — maybe $500,000 or so.

Additionally, we need Congress, right now, to enact a minimum tax on high incomes. I would suggest 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that. A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultrarich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours. Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy.

Above all, we should not postpone these changes in the name of “reforming” the tax code. True, changes are badly needed. We need to get rid of arrangements like “carried interest” that enable income from labor to be magically converted into capital gains. And it’s sickening that a Cayman Islands mail drop can be central to tax maneuvering by wealthy individuals and corporations.

But the reform of such complexities should not promote delay in our correcting simple and expensive inequities. We can’t let those who want to protect the privileged get away with insisting that we do nothing until we can do everything.

Our government’s goal should be to bring in revenues of 18.5 percent of G.D.P. and spend about 21 percent of G.D.P. — levels that have been attained over extended periods in the past and can clearly be reached again. As the math makes clear, this won’t stem our budget deficits; in fact, it will continue them. But assuming even conservative projections about inflation and economic growth, this ratio of revenue to spending will keep America’s debt stable in relation to the country’s economic output.

In the last fiscal year, we were far away from this fiscal balance — bringing in 15.5 percent of G.D.P. in revenue and spending 22.4 percent. Correcting our course will require major concessions by both Republicans and Democrats.

All of America is waiting for Congress to offer a realistic and concrete plan for getting back to this fiscally sound path. Nothing less is acceptable.

In the meantime, maybe you’ll run into someone with a terrific investment idea, who won’t go forward with it because of the tax he would owe when it succeeds. Send him my way. Let me unburden him.
5299  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Nuclear Power: Thorium To Be Used In a Working Reactor on: November 27, 2012, 10:39:12 AM
Addressing the issue of nuclear waste:

"thorium-based nuclear fuel has several advantages over uranium-based fuel, including better waste characteristics, improved proliferation resistance, and abundant raw material supply"

"With plutonium seed in the fuel mix, the reactors would not only generate power, but they would also eliminate dangerous waste left over from other nuclear operations and thus help address the problem of what to do with that waste."

Thorium To Be Used In a Working Reactor

November 26, 2012

A Norwegian company led by Alf Bjørseth will start burning thorium fuel in a conventional test reactor owned by Norway’s government with help from U.S.-based nuclear giant Westinghouse.

Bjørseth is now running his private company Scatec AS, and establishing new companies within Scatec based on the latest technologies in the areas of renewable energy and advanced materials, including a thorium fuel effort through a holding company called Thor Corporation.

Thor Corporation owns Thor Energy and also has shares in businesses related to thorium fuel, thorium mining and separation of rare earth elements.  Fen Minerals holds the mining rights to the Fen deposits in South Norway, which are rich in thorium and rare earth elements. The third company is Norwegian Separation Technology, a company in the process of developing a novel separation method for rare earth elements.

Natural Thorium Ore. Click image for more info.

The company has completed a 2-year thorium fuel cycle feasibility study which concludes that thorium-based nuclear fuel has several advantages over uranium-based fuel, including better waste characteristics, improved proliferation resistance, and abundant raw material supply.

Thor Energy has established a consortium that will fund and run a 5-year thorium irradiation project to be conducted at the Norwegian government owned Halden Nuclear Reactor.  Halden, typically described as a “test reactor,” also provides steam to a nearby paper mill. The move should bring thorium closer to replacing uranium as a possible safer and more effective nuclear power source.

Thor’s chief technology officer Julian Kelly explained Thor Energy will deploy a mix of solid thorium mixed with plutonium – a blend known as “thorium MOX”.

The plan isn’t the one most thorium enthusiasts have been hoping for.  Many professionals believe thorium’s advantages are most pronounced in alternative reactor designs such as molten salt reactors and pebble bed reactors, rather than today’s conventional solid-fuel water-cooled reactors.

Some thorium fans have realized it may be best to insert thorium into the energy scene by first putting it to use in reactors that already have regulatory approval.

Halden Heavy Water Reactor Flow Diagram. Click image for the largest view.

Best or not, Thor is testing the thorium fuel in a conventional reactor at Halden cooled by “heavy water”.  This is not the same as regular light water reactors built commercially around the world.  The cooling is by deuterium or water with an isotope of hydrogen.

With plutonium seed in the fuel mix, the reactors would not only generate power, but they would also eliminate dangerous waste left over from other nuclear operations and thus help address the problem of what to do with that waste.

The consortium reaches pretty far.  Thor will fabricate some of its own thorium MOX in partnership with Norway’s Institute for Energy Technology. Britain’s National Nuclear Laboratory – owned by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change – will also provide some, as will the European Commission’s Institute for Transuranium Elements.

Westinghouse is helping to fund the project, as are other of Thor’s industrial partners including Steenkampskraal Thorium Ltd., a South African company that is developing a thorium-fueled pebble bed reactor.  Other partners include the Finnish utility Fortum and the French chemicals company Rhodia.

That news ought to cheer all the thorium enthusiasts.

Yet Westinghouse doesn’t like to discuss its thorium activities publicly.  It is likely the firm believes working alternatives could undermine the company’s conventional nuclear business. Rumors have it Westinghouse has at least a few thorium-connected and alternative nuclear projects in the works.  One is out now and it isn’t a direct competitor as such.

Westinghouse is also known to be the commercial adviser on the U.S. Department of Energy’s collaboration with China on developing a molten-salt cooled reactor.  Westinghouse has also helped organize many of the alternative nuclear sessions at the American Nuclear Society convention just held in San Diego California.

This is great news worthy of Norway and her citizens.  The element thorium was named by the region’s ancestral God Thor, they have rich deposits, and a great deal of competency and intellectual prowess.  The test will very likely work out and that could offer reactor operators an alternative to uranium and ever more plutonium.

It will be fascinating to see the results.  The wait will be long though; it takes quite a while to burn through nuclear fuel.
5300  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom on: November 27, 2012, 10:22:47 AM
"Smoking rubble filled with body parts" ... "An appeal to emotion."

Yes, I think terror is the emotion, not the carnage or the body count.

I rarely fly anymore.  My extreme distaste for the TSA treatment and general aversion to being treated like cattle is a part of it.

" many terrorist plots the TSA has foiled. Some number less than one, yes?"  ...
"TSA regularly fails security audits, is currently unionizing, and regularly produces nasty employees..."

We might all agree (?) that the current methods of current TSA are badly flawed but transportation security done wisely and effectively is a legitimate function of government.
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