Category: Spending Cuts

Maybe He Meant Higher “Steak” Taxes?

By , December 13, 2012 7:22 am

Why do we listen to this plutocrat when we apparently don’t want to listen to this one?

Emily Litella comes to mind.

Never mind indeed.

Warren Buffett’s $1.2 billion share buyback from a single unnamed investor likely helped that person’s estate save substantially on taxes, just one day after the Berkshire Hathaway CEO said the rich should actually be paying more, not less, when they die. With the “fiscal cliff” looming and … taxes set to rise dramatically in less than three weeks, the timing was seen as advantageous — and, according to Berkshire watchers, also out of place in the context of Buffett’s recent tax activism. … Berkshire said it bought 9,200 Class A shares from “the estate of a long-time shareholder,” whom it did not name, at $131,000 per share, a price in line with where Berkshire has traded in recent weeks. …

Yet given his wealth and his own self-professed low tax rate, Buffett has been called out in some quarters for not practicing what he preaches.

Talking Tough?

By , December 10, 2012 5:33 pm

Okay, you’re going to have to help me. What exactly are “tough spending cuts on things we don’t need“? That’s your president speaking during a visit to an auto plant in Redford, Michigan, mind you. Here’s the quote in context:

What you need is a package that keeps taxes where they are for middle-class families, we make some tough spending cuts on things that we don’t need, and then we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a slightly higher tax rate, and that’s a principle I won’t compromise on.

If we don’t need something, it’s not hard to get rid of it, right? Unless you’re a hoarder. President Obama’s not a hoarder is he?

Some Truth Telling

By , November 30, 2012 8:39 am

Kevin Williamson is a conservative columnist that I trust. I base my trust on the fact that when he swings his scythe through the political weeds, he is indiscriminate. Both bad Republican and bad Democrat ideas fall by the wayside–or would if he actually had any power. In National Review today, he cuts into the fiscal cliff debate, revealing it for what it is–a charade.

Chew on this quote from his article for a moment:

The fundamental unseriousness of the fiscal-cliff debate can be appreciated by examining [Senator Bob] Corker’s (R-Tenn.) plan . . ., which probably is very close to the best that deficit hawks could hope for in terms of a bipartisan compromise — which is to say, precious little. At best, the Corker plan would reduce the growth of U.S. federal debt by about $4.5 trillion over the next decade, but it would not eliminate the deficit or reduce the debt, and it would allow for trillions of dollars to be added to the wrong side of the national ledger. (emphasis supplied)

To repeat, just in case you didn’t grasp Williamson’s point: Corker’s plan would only reduce the growth in Federal spending over 10 years. It does not actually reduce the debt, which will continue to grow and grow and grow and so on. In other words, under Corker’s plan–and he’s a Republican, mind you; a so-called deficit hawk–10 years from now our national debt would be much larger than it is today–“trillions of [new] dollars” on the “wrong side of the national ledger,” Williamson writes–just not as large as it would be without Corker’s plan.

Some wise people argue for more spending in times like these to keep the economy moving along. When they do, they generally talk about raising taxes and spending the new revenue on our infrastructure. I’m conflicted on this subject. I see the need and I’d like to contribute, but the apparent unseriousness of the people who would actually be collecting and spending the dollars brings to mind a drunk teenager asking his parents for the keys to the family car.

And so the game continues. Somewhere, Nero is stringing his violin.

President Obama Is Right

By , August 14, 2012 9:54 am

I agree with what President Obama says in this video, particularly at around the 4:00 – 4:30 mark. Until we–Republicans and Democrats–stop fear mongering, we will not solve our nation’s financial problems.

The question is, does President Obama and his side of the aisle really believe what he says in that video? The evidence from the last few weeks says no. To be fair, does the Republican party?

Senator Simpson’s Budget Buddy on Paul Ryan and His Budget Plan

By , August 13, 2012 10:24 am

Hot Air has the story. It ain’t good for Mr. Obama

The Court Upheld the Affordable Care Act: Some Good News

By , June 28, 2012 11:07 am

For all of you exulting about the Court upholding the Affordable Care Act via Congress’s enumerated powers to tax and spend, as Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse says, “Let’s not be distracted by the breadth of the taxing power. The American people exert tremendous political power against taxing. Look at the Tea Party. A political price will be paid — both for the tax and the deceit about imposing a tax.” She goes on to talk about how the Court applied the brakes on the seemingly ever-expanding Commerce power. Worth a read” target=”_blank”>Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse says,

Let’s not be distracted by the breadth of the taxing power. The American people exert tremendous political power against taxing. Look at the Tea Party. A political price will be paid — both for the tax and the deceit about imposing a tax.

She goes on to talk about the brakes the Court applied on the seemingly ever-expanding Commerce power. Worth a read.

All You Need to Know to Know There’s a Big Problem on the Horizon

By , March 12, 2012 2:02 pm

“New York City’s annual pension contributions have increased to $8 billion from $1.5 billion over the past decade.”

Well, This Quote Caught My Attention

By , February 22, 2012 11:02 am

So there the Internet’s in a tizzy over an apparent scheme by someone on the globe’s a’warmin’ side of the climate debate to discredit the “denier” side. I use the word “denier” purposefully and in quotes because that’s the word of choice the other side uses routinely to, I can only assume, stifle debate about the climate science behind global warming. I mean, can you think of another reason to use that pejorative?

In any case, the argument is that if you accept the argument that global warming is happening and that man plays a big part in that warming, you’re rational and accept science and all it has to offer. If you don’t, you’re a “denier” and anti-science. You probably–indeed likely–don’t accept evolution and probably–almost certainly–will vote for Santorum this fall.

If that all makes sense to you and if you accept my premise that the pejorative “denier” is intended to stifle debate, you’ll have trouble like I did making sense of the following by a guy named Peter Gleick, “head of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, California and apparently until very recently, the chair of the American Geophysical Union’s Task Force on Scientific Ethics,” according to Megan Mcardle who writes today in The Atlantic about the aforementioned scheme. Quoting Mr. Gleick now (bolded emphasis mine):

I only note that the scientific understanding of the reality and risks of climate change is strong, compelling, and increasingly disturbing, and a rational public debate is desperately needed. My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved.

Now I’m not a climate scientist, but from my observations, I’d say that the “deniers” would love to have a debate, would love to argue their side in peer reviewed journals, would love to share the stage with global warming alarmist Al Gore. Maybe Mr. Gleick can make that happen–after he comes clean from his misguided efforts to “attack [‘deniers’] and scientists [who don’t accept the so-called global warming consensus] and prevent this debate.” Maybe. Not holding my breath, though that might help stave off global warming–if there is global warming.

Finally, and on a related note, the following quote from Mcardle’s pen should be carved in stone for all to read and re-read (people in the press, you guys and gals in Congress, Mr. President and all the candidates who are running to take their seats, I’m thinking of you):

After you have convinced people that you fervently believe your cause to be more important than telling the truth, you’ve lost the power to convince them of anything else.

Folks, that last quote accounts for the economic mess we are in right now. Because the people I’ve just named have lost our trust, many of the tools we need to solve/fix this mess are off the table–until trust is restored–and that’s another blog post.

UPDATE: Judith Curry of Georgia Tech adds her two cents.

Affordable Care Act: It’s About Power, and It Always Has Been

By , June 8, 2011 3:23 pm

Ilya Shapiro nails it, and apparently, so did the judges of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Obamacare–the Affordable Care Act–is and always has been about power. Washington wants is. The people, at least people like me, don’t want to give it to them.

As the lawyer representing 26 states against the federal government said, “The whole reason we do this is to protect liberty.” With those words, former solicitor general Paul Clement reached the essence of the Obamacare lawsuits. With apologies to Joe Biden, this is a big deal not because we’re dealing with a huge reorganization of the health care industry, but because our most fundamental first principle is at stake: we limit government power so people can live their lives the way they want.

This legal process is not an academic exercise to map the precise contours of the Commerce Clause or Necessary and Proper Clause — or even to vindicate our commitment to federalism or judicial review. No, all of these worthy endeavors are just means to achieve the goal of maximizing human freedom and flourishing. Indeed, that is the very reason the government exists in the first place.

And the 11th Circuit judges saw that. Countless times, Judges Dubina and Marcus demanded that the government articulate constitutional limiting principles to the power it asserted. And countless times they pointed out that never in history has Congress tried to compel people to engage in commerce as a means of regulating commerce.

In case anybody cares, I feel the same way about Climate Change. Even conceding that the globe is warming, I’m not willing to kneel before the would-be climate demigods, certainly not before them move from their Mount Olympus mansions and give up their jets. Yes, Al, I’m talking about you.

What We Need Then Are More Affordable Care Act Waivers, Right?

By , June 6, 2011 1:05 pm

In October last year, Obama granted McDonald’s and 28 other firms waivers from having to comply with his Affordable Care Act. With that in mind, consider the following.

Prior to the release of the May jobs report, Morgan Stanley, according to MarketWatch, estimated that McDonald’s would account for roughly half the jobs created in May 2011.

Morgan Stanley estimates McDonald’s hiring will boost the overall number by 25,000 to 30,000. The Labor Department won’t detail an exact McDonald’s figure — they won’t identify any company they survey — but there will be data in the report to give a rough estimate.

In fact, total private-sector employment grew by 83,000 in May. Thus IF Morgan Stanley was right, Mickey D’s was responsible for as much as 36% of the private sector jobs created last week. (If you use the total non-farm payroll, which includes government jobs, job growth was even weaker at just 54,000; thus, Mickey D’s could have accounted for up to 55% of new jobs.)

In any case, job growth was weak in May, and McDonald’s probably created a large number of those jobs; thus, logic compels the following question: Should Obama grant waivers to all businesses?

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