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Monday, December 31, 2012

Rand Paul slams ‘spending bill’ fiscal cliff deal - Bobby Cervantes - POLITICO.com

Rand Paul slams ‘spending bill’ fiscal cliff deal - Bobby Cervantes - POLITICO.com

GHEI: New year, same economy - Washington Times

GHEI: New year, same economy - Washington Times

Recession is coming. That’s the cheery news emanating from the green eyeshades at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The nonpartisan economists last month issued a report outlining the likely outcomes given a set of probable scenarios. The way things are shaping up, 2013 won’t be a happy year.
Consumer confidence and small-business confidence are still in the dumps. The public is rightly skittish, uncertain about what Congress and the president will do — or not do — to avoid the massive tax hikes scheduled to take effect on Tuesday. It will be a nasty surprise if another 30 million families making as little as $75,000 per year find themselves swept into paying the alternative minimum tax (AMT), a pernicious levy originally sold as a “wealth tax.” Large families living in high-cost, high-tax states will lose exemptions for children and state taxes by falling into the AMT’s grasp. Internal Revenue Service computers aren’t expected to keep up with the tax-code chaos this will cause, likely delaying tax refunds for millions of filers.
Fear of this outcome sent consumer confidence plunging to its lowest level in five months, as measured separately by the Conference Board and by the University of Michigan. The Conference Board index dropped more than six points from its November level to barely above 65 in December, and the University of Michigan reflected an equivalent drop. Unsurprisingly, unhappy consumers kept their cash in their wallets over the holiday season. Retail sales were up less than 1 percent, falling far short of the optimistic predictions that said we would see 3 percent to 4 percent gains over last year.


Read more: http://p.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/28/new-year-same-economy/#ixzz2GfhOFcXk
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Obama Scuttles 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal?

This afternoon, in one of the more bizarre appearances of his presidency, Barack Obama gave a televised address to a room full of supporters on the "fiscal cliff." He broke no news, but mocked Congress, and hinted at future tax hikes. Observers worried that he may have deliberately scuttled a potential agreement.

Even though he has come off his last campaign for political office, President Obama acted like a candidate on the campaign trail--one prepared to use whatever political capital he had accumulated to take shots at the opposition in Congress at the very moment leaders from both sides are trying to work together.

Less a President, Obama behaved more like an ESPN talking-head making fun of RG III's knee injury.

Obama's address, which you can watch below, was held basically to announce that some other people are working on solving the "fiscal cliff" crisis. They are close, Obama reported, but they aren't quite there yet. He then proceeded to make some jokes about Congress, to warm applause from his selected audience. Smug doesn't come close to capturing the true nature of his tone.

What Obama's presser did reveal, however, was that never-ending tax hikes are on the table for the next four years. Obama said that, beyond any deal Congress may reach on the "fiscal cliff", we will have to take further steps to address our debt and deficit. That is obviously true, as any possible deal won't really deal with spending cuts. But, Obama said that, going forward, we will have to continue to have a "balanced" approach and ask the wealthy to contribute more.

Obama said he will continue to ask for "shared sacrifice" for "as long as I'm President. And, I'm going to be President for four more years." Tellingly, this "sacrifice" always includes more taxes, rather than cuts in spending.

To anyone who wondered whether Obama wanted the "cliff" talks to fail, this afternoon's presser provided the answer. If the GOP thinks it can cede some ground on taxes and then move on to debating spending, Obama, this afternoon, put that notion to rest. Obama will treat ALL future talks on deficit reduction as opportunities to increase taxes. Anything the GOP agrees to in the next 24 hours is simply a down-payment on what Obama wants.

I have long noted that repealing the Bush-era tax cuts doesn't come anywhere close to plugging our deficit. Obama, today, agreed with that. He signaled that, as long as he's President, further tax hikes will always be on the table. In doing so, he undermined all the work that's been done in Congress this weekend.

Obama may have just scuttled any real "fiscal cliff" deal.

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"We Darn Well Better Cut Spending"

"We Darn Well Better Cut Spending":

"If we're going to raise revenue and if we're going to raise it in any form, then we darn well better cut spending, because spending is the biggest part of this problem," said Erskine Bowles, Bill ...

The Imaginary Fiscal Cliff Spending "Cuts"

The Imaginary Fiscal Cliff Spending "Cuts":
J.D. Tuccille|Dec. 31, 2012 1:16 pm
For thoseof you who haven't slipped into an ennui-fueled coma after weeks of
artificially tense fiscal cliff discussions,here's a reality ...

Obama's Crisis Demagoguery

Obama's Crisis Demagoguery


There may be a last-minute compromise reached today in the negotiations over the fiscal cliff, but not if President Obama has anything to say about it. Even as Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were believed to have led the effort to have the structure of a deal in place for the two houses of Congress to vote on later today, the president emerged to make a statement that seemed geared to scuttling the negotiations.
In a campaign-style event, the president spoke of a possible accord between the two parties that would avert the immediate effects of the fiscal cliff being reached. But the bulk of his remarks were devoted to goading the Republicans into backing away from any deal. Not only did he gratuitously insult the GOP about their stands on the budget to the great amusement of the hand-picked audience of supporters, he also made it clear that the tax increases in any compromise would just be the start of what he hoped to accomplish. Even worse, he implied that spending cuts, especially the entitlement reform that is necessary for any long-term solution to the nation’s problems, are not really on the table as far as he is concerned.
Given the tone of his comments and the timing, Republicans should be forgiven for suspecting that his real purpose was to send the country over the cliff in the belief that only the GOP would be blamed for the disaster.
The president obviously thinks the very last moment before a fiscal catastrophe that would raise taxes on all Americans and impose devastating cuts in defense is a good time to mock the idea of spending cuts and to threaten further taxes. The only possible motivation for this is to convince suspicious Republicans that any give in their position will not be met even part of the way by the Democrats. In other words, if even now the president is unprepared to contemplate entitlement reform, then it is difficult to make the argument that they should do the responsible thing and compromise.
Through last year’s debt ceiling crisis as well as the fiscal cliff talks, the president has always behaved as if he thought he had nothing to lose by engaging in class warfare demagoguery. Since going over the cliff means raising more taxes and feeding the government beast that he seems uninterested in restraining as well as cutting defense spending, why shouldn’t he try to incite the GOP to refuse to agree to a deal?
But for him to behave in this manner on the very eve of the crisis while leaders of both parties are struggling to construct a makeshift measure that will get the nation past midnight is telling.
This is not just the confident manner of a re-elected president, but the contempt of a man who believes he doesn’t have to listen to anyone but himself. This may presage future fights over taxes in which he thinks he will continue to have the whip hand over the GOP. But the law of unintended consequences may eventually catch up with him. Though his soak-the-rich rhetoric resonates with many Americans, they also understand that entitlement reform is in the best interests of the nation and that raising taxes on millionaires won’t balance the budget. Few outside the hard left really believe, as Obama seemed to say today, that America only has a tax problem, not a spending problem.
If in the coming months and years these irresponsible tactics catch up with the president, we may look back on his behavior today and see it as the turning point in the debate. The Greeks had a word for the kind of behavior President Obama demonstrated today: hubris. His second term may well be blighted by it.

Deal Takes Shape, But Spending Still Issue

Deal Takes Shape, But Spending Still Issue:
WASHINGTON - Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, on Monday reached agreement on a tentative deal to stave off large tax in...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

ISSA: Washington spenders flunk basic math - Washington Times

ISSA: Washington spenders flunk basic math - Washington Times

Politicians in Washington have spent the better part of the past two months advancing a myth that is undermining one of the most important public policy debates in recent memory. It’s a myth that is coming at the expense of solutions based on common sense that could return us to balance and fiscal stability.
Twenty-six years ago, President Reagan implemented significant tax reforms that lowered the individual income tax rate, limited deductions and brought equality to tax rates across all levels. Before that reform, there had been 15 different marginal tax rates reaching levels as high as 50 percent for top brackets. By the time Reagan left office, the number of brackets had been reduced to two: 15 percent and 28 percent.
In 1993, President Clinton raised the top two income rates to 36 percent and 39.6 percent while also raising the corporate tax rate, increasing the taxable portion of Social Security benefits and increasing income taxable for Medicare. This is what has become known as the “Clinton tax rates.”
In 2001, President George W. Bush changed the rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, lowered the capital gains and dividend income rates, and expanded credits and deductions such as the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
So much time and energy is being spent advancing the myth that raising taxes is the best way to avoid falling off the so-called “fiscal cliff.”
If you raised taxes on the top income bracket, you would generate around $1 trillion over 10 years. The past four years under President Obama have resulted in trillion-dollar deficits each year. At this rate, in 10 years we’re looking at $10 trillion in new debt. At best, the “tax-the-rich” proposal is just a 10 percent solution.
Let’s take this tax-more, spend-more approach to the extreme. If you return everyone to the Clinton-era tax rates, you’re still left with a 10-year, $2.3 trillion deficit, and that’s assuming everything stays as it is right now, and Washington breaks its trend of spending more every year. (Even if we go over the fiscal cliff and return to Clinton-era tax rates, we’re still left with at least a $2.3 trillion deficit over the next 10 years.) The bottom line is this: Under no proposed scenario does raising taxes eliminate the deficit and return us to a balanced budget. The problem is government spending.
This fixation with tax increases is doing a huge disservice to the American people because it ignores the real crisis: government spending. By now, you know all too well that government spends more than it takes in. The federal government is spending more per household than ever before. Since 1965, spending per household has grown by 152 percent.
Conveniently omitted from the current fiscal-cliff discussions is the reality that for individuals earning more than $200,000 a year, their taxes already are going up in 2013, courtesy of Obamacare, which includes a new 1 percent tax on persons making more than $200,000 a year as well as an additional 3.8 percent tax on capital gains, investment income and certain home sales. These two new taxes will generate $317.7 billion over a 10-year period, or $31 billion a year — covering just a fraction of the current $1.1 trillion deficit for fiscal 2012 alone.
Do you know what some in Washington will say 10 years from now, when the problem hasn’t gone away? They’ll say, “We need to tax more.” Why isn’t the solution ever about spending less?
Some in Washington aren’t interested in the truth. They aren’t interested in facts. They aren’t interested in solving the problem. For them, that’s bad for business. It’s much easier for them to keep kicking the can down the road and using our fiscal decline to essentially “cry wolf” and raise your taxes. When will it ever stop?
I can guarantee you this: It won’t stop here, it won’t stop with just the “1 percent” or the “2 percent.” There will never be enough to satisfy this insatiable appetite to spend more.
That’s what’s really at stake right now.
The other side tries to boil this down into a seven-second sound bite about taxing the rich and people paying their fair share. In 2009, the top 10 percent of earners in the United States already paid more than 70 percent of federal income taxes.
This isn’t about fairness and unfairness. It’s about taxing and spending, and the federal government has spent enough.



Read more: http://p.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/28/washington-spenders-flunk-basic-math/#ixzz2Gapwo0b7
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

The Political Class Is a Cloud Over Us All

The Political Class Is a Cloud Over Us All:
Americans are in a panic. Crowds throng gun shows and shops. Blue-chip companies fast-forward next year's dividends to this year. Investors cash out profits, estate planners report a rush of people...

Perhaps We Are Still in Oz

Perhaps We Are Still in Oz:
What if Dorothy’s skip down the yellow brick road was not just about getting back home to Kansas?
L. Frank Baum‘s classic “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” published amid the economic and politic...

Brace for an Avalanche of Unfunded Debt

Brace for an Avalanche of Unfunded Debt

The fiscal cliff isn't as scary as the looming deficit and debt crisis about to swamp the country

By MORTIMER B. ZUCKERMAN
December 28, 2012 RSS Feed Print

All eyes have been on the clear and present danger of the fiscal cliff—understandably—but there's a sound in the mountain range that's even scarier than the cliff. It's the sound made by an avalanche, the trillions of dollars of debt that's heading our way, gathering speed and mass. For most people, it's out of earshot now, and that's the way our government prefers to play it in its financial statements. Liabilities are not set out there in accordance with the well-established norms of the private sector, where this overhang of liabilities would set off alarm bells in the markets, with boards of directors in emergency sessions.

We'll come to why that's not happening, but let's consider first why we should regard our predicaments as gravely as any private company does on the path to bankruptcy.

We are on a trajectory of cumulative fiscal deficits that cannot possibly be sustained. We have gone from being the world's largest creditor nation, with no foreign debt at the end of World War II, to the world's largest debtor, with roughly half of our public debt held by foreign lenders. Over the last four years, our national debt has grown by more than $5 trillion to over $16 trillion. We have to service that debt. The Federal Reserve is keeping rates historically low but here's the cost of paying interest on the debt for fiscal 2012: $359,796,008,919.49

Jefferson On Gun Control

“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms… disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

Don't They Make You Sick?



Saturday, December 29, 2012

The State of Our Political Economy:Weekly Standard

The State of Our Political Economy
By Irwin M. Stelzeron Sat, 29 Dec 2012

This is the time that tries economists’ models. It has become the fashion at this time of year for forecasters to opine on the growth of GDP, the level of unemployment, the inflation rate next year—to at least one decimal place. I respect those who consult their models and intuition to come up with forecasts, but have neither the wit nor the courage to attempt such an exercise. Instead, I offer a comment on one aspect of 2013 that is often overlooked: the state of our political economy. The coming year will see a war between politics and economics, between a political class bent on transferring resources from the private to the less productive public sector, and an entrepreneurial class that, uninhibited by policy errors, can power growth at a rate most forecasters do not see in their crystal balls. That war will be waged whatever the result of negotiations, underway as I write, to prevent a leap off the fiscal cliff.

Most of the news in the closing days of 2012 has not been good. Holiday spending grew at the anemic rate of 0.7 percent according to one source (other surveys disagree), consumer confidence and share prices dipped, activity slowed in some regions, and negotiations over the cliff made clear that President Obama feels no need to compromise with a fractured and inept Republican House, over this or any of the issues faced in 2013.

The so-called fiscal cliff was a sideshow, distracting attention from two key and unresolved political issues that will play out in decisions about economic policy. The first is the rancorous tone of political life, due less to personality clashes than to profound differences in ideology. The president wants the “rich” subjected to higher tax rates to fund an expansion of government—a comparable increase in the tax take by closing loopholes will not do, for reasons that mystify those who don’t understand that one of the president’s goals is to fracture the Republican Party, as Charles Krauthammer has pointed out in his columns and on Fox. And he has no intention of reining in spending. On the other side of the political divide are many Republicans, with a majority in the House, who believe any tax increases provide revenues that feed a freedom-threatening growth of government, and stifle incentives for private-sector actors to invest and create jobs. In addition there are practical politics: The president wants to keep his left on his side, and congressional Republicans believe a vote for an increase in tax rates is a vote to join the unemployment queue. Those competing views foretell a year of battles over spending and tax policy—uncertainty, as market watchers like to call it.

Unfortunately, early in 2013 this market-rattling rancor will have multiple platforms on which it can be displayed. On January 29 the president delivers his State of the Union Address, his favored platform from which to attack his opponents. The televised meeting of both Houses of Congress provides a huge audience, and his targets, arrayed before him in the audience, have no prospect of responding before an audience of comparable size, as the members of the Supreme Court have learned. If you want to see good manners, don’t look to the president, who plans to let the country know just what he thinks of the Republican opposition, which isn’t very much. Not designed to smooth the path to compromise.

Then, there is the small matter of the debt ceiling. Monday the government reaches the limit of what it can lawfully borrow, but Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner can get by until February by juggling accounts—a juggling act that might put corporate treasurers behind bars if they emulated the keeper of our nation’s books. If Republicans somewhere along the line waive their right to hold out for spending cuts in return for raising the debt ceiling, they will have surrendered their last chance to rein in Obama’s spending. The last time congressional Republicans unholstered this weapon America lost its triple-A debt rating. But Republicans feel they are in the last-chance saloon, with the debt ceiling negotiations their only weapon to force Obama to trade spending cuts for an increase in the ceiling.

The good news is that these opportunities for the expression of mutual distaste are concentrated in the early part of the year. The bad news is that there is no sign that the politicians are prepared to mount a serious attack on the $1 trillion annual deficits that are adding to the nation’s debt mountain, or to modify the unaffordable retirement, health care and other commitments made to America’s aging population. As Hudson Institute scholar Chris DeMuth noted in a recent essay in THE WEEKLY STANDARD, “America’s de facto fiscal policy since the early 1960s [has been] continuous government borrowing to pay for current consumption.” America’s structural deficit—the one that will persist even if the economy recovers fully—comes to almost 7 percent of GDP, the highest of any rich nation with the exception of Japan.

Offsetting these depressing (in more ways than one) politics are signs of strength in the economy.

· The private sector has been adding jobs by the millions despite the weakness of the recovery and the construction sector. Now, with the average workweek for construction workers at its highest level in seven years, hiring in a sector that has bled jobs cannot be far behind.

· The housing market is on the upswing. Sales of existing homes rose last month by 14.5 percent over last November, sales of new homes are rising, and prices, although still far from their pre-bust peaks, jumped 6.9 percent this year, the largest gain since 2005. Applications for building permits are up. Inventories of new homes for sale are at a 50-year low, and inventories of previously owned houses for sale are at an 11-year low. Thanks to Ben Bernanke’s low mortgage interest rates, rising rental rates that make ownership relatively more attractive, and an improving jobs market that encourages young couples to trade the comfort of their parents’ basements for homes of their own.

· Vehicle sales continue strong as Americans replace their aging cars and light trucks.

· Consumers are in good shape. Before the strum and drang about the cliff hit their confidence, and before Sandy hit an area accounting for about 24 percent of national spending, consumer spending and incomes rose nicely. Debt payments are claiming the lowest portion of household incomes since 1983, leaving more cash for other spending.

· Fracking has produced a boom in drilling, already created 500,000 jobs, by one estimate, will result in $90 billion of new investment, and has America on course to a future of cheap energy that is attracting manufacturing firms to expand here rather than abroad—gas prices are only one-third of those in Europe. Unfortunately, fracking and cheap gas make government subsidies for costly renewables even more difficult to defend, and might prompt the Obama administration’s regulators to bow to environmental pressure groups and a gaggle of Hollywood stars, and stifle shale gas and oil development.

· Corporate balance sheets are strong, and investible funds ample. Add policy certainty and investment might move from planning to implementation.

If there were a scientific method of predicting whether political drag will offset the private sector’s inclination to go about the business of investing, creating jobs, and adding to wealth I would use it. There isn’t. All I can offer is my guess that even inept government cannot for long stifle the animal spirits of America’s investors and consumers, and my best wishes for the New Year.

Founding Father Quote

"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men."

Samuel Adams

Entitlements Are Rights!



Social Security Ran $47.8B Deficit in FY 2012; Disabled Workers Hit New Record in December: 8,827,795 | CNS News

Social Security Ran $47.8B Deficit in FY 2012; Disabled Workers Hit New Record in December: 8,827,795 | CNS News

(CNSNews.com) - The Social Security program ran a $47.8 billion deficit in fiscal 2012 as the program brought in $725.429 billion in cash and paid $773.247 for benefits and overhead expenses, according toofficial data published by Social Security Administration.
The Social Security Administration also released new data revealing that the number of workers collecting disability benefits hit a record 8,827,795 in December--up from 8,805,353 in November.
The overall number of Social Security program beneficiaries—including retired workers, dependent family members and survivors and disabled workers and their dependent family members—also hit a record in December, climbing from 56,658,978 in November to 56,758,185 in December.
In 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was an average of 112.556 million full-time workers in the United States, of whom 17.806 million worked full-time for local, state or federal government. That left an average of only 94.750 million full-time private sector workers in the country.

U.S. Taxpayers Will Continue to Pay More Than One-Fifth of U.N. Budget | CNS News

U.S. Taxpayers Will Continue to Pay More Than One-Fifth of U.N. Budget | CNS News

(CNSNews.com) – In one of its last actions of the year, the United Nations General Assembly on Christmas Eve agreed to extend for another three years the formula that has U.S. taxpayers contributing more than one-fifth of the world body’s regular budget.
No member-state called for a recorded vote, and the resolution confirming the contributions that each country will make for the 2013-2015 period was summarily adopted. The assembly also approved a two-year U.N. budget of $5.4 billion.
The U.S. has accounted for 22 percent of the total regular budget every year since 2000, and will now continue to do so for the next three years.
The U.S. representative for U.N. management and reform, Joseph Torsella, expressed satisfaction that the U.S. contribution had not been raised above that level.
“The United States is very pleased to have maintained the critical 22 percent ceiling for U.S. contributions to the U.N. regular budget, protecting U.S. taxpayers from the additional bills – estimated to be at least $300 million annually in both the regular and peacekeeping budgets – that would have resulted from an increase in the U.S. ceiling level,” he said.
Two months ago, when the General Assembly’s budget committee was meeting on the issue, Torsella noted that since the last time the budget contribution formula was reviewed, “developing countries have continued their impressive economic growth.”
“Countries whose economies have grown should welcome the opportunity to become a larger stakeholder in the work of the organization,” he said.

Friday, December 28, 2012

$1 Trillion Obamacare Tax Hike Hitting on Jan. 1

$1 Trillion Obamacare Tax Hike Hitting on Jan. 1

On January 1, regardless of the outcome of fiscal cliff negotiations, Americans will be hit with a $1 trillion Obamacare tax hike. Obamacare contains twenty new or higher taxes. Five of the taxes hit for the first time on January 1. In total, for the years 2013-2022, Americans face a net $1 trillion tax hike for the years 2013-2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The five major Obamacare taxes taking effect on January are as follows:

The Obamacare Medical Device Tax:

Medical device manufacturers employ 409,000 people in 12,000 plants across the country. Obamacare imposes a new 2.3 percent excise tax on gross sales – even if the company does not earn a profit in a given year. In addition to killing small business jobs and impacting research and development budgets, this will increase the cost of your health care – making everything from pacemakers to artificial hips more expensive.
The Obamacare Flex Account Tax: The 30-35 million Americans who use a pre-tax Flexible Spending Account (FSA) at work to pay for their family’s basic medical needs will face a new government cap of $2500. This will squeeze $13 billion of tax money from Americans over the ten years. (Currently, the accounts are unlimited under federal law, though employers are allowed to set a cap.)
There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children. There are several million families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. This Obamacare tax provision will limit the options available to these families.
The Obamacare Surtax on Investment Income: This is a new, 3.8 percentage point surtax on investment income earned in households making at least $250,000 ($200,000 single). This would result in the following top tax rates on investment income:

Capital Gains
Dividends
Other*
2012
15%
15%
35%
2013+ (current law)
23.8%
43.4%
43.4%
The table above also incorporates the scheduled hike in the capital gains rate from 15 to 20 percent, and the scheduled hike in dividends rate from 15 to 39.6 percent.
The Obamacare “Haircut” for Medical Itemized Deductions: Currently, those Americans facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI). This tax increase imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. By limiting this deduction, Obamacare widens the net of taxable income for the sickest Americans. This tax provision will most harm near retirees and those with modest incomes but high medical bills.
The Obamacare Medicare Payroll Tax Hike: The Medicare payroll tax is currently 2.9 percent on all wages and self-employment profits. Under this tax hike, wages and profits exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 in the case of married couples) will face a 3.8 percent rate instead. This is a direct marginal income tax hike on small business owners, who are liable for self-employment tax in most cases. The table below compares current law vs. the Obamacare Medicare Payroll Tax Hike:

First $200,000
($250,000 Married)
Employer/Employee
All Remaining Wages
Employer/Employee
Current Law
1.45%/1.45%
2.9% self-employed
1.45%/1.45%
2.9% self-employed
Obamacare Tax Hike
1.45%/1.45%
2.9% self-employed
1.45%/2.35%
3.8% self-employed


Read more: http://atr.org/trillion-obamacare-tax-hike-hitting-jan-a7393#ixzz2GPEIL6E5
Follow us: @taxreformer on Twitter

Roots Of Evil



The Obama Culture Arrives | CNS News

The Obama Culture Arrives | CNS News

The year 2012 was a depressing time for people who are already pessimistic about the state of our common culture. Conversely, the re-election of Barack Obama, in large measure made possible by the heavy financial support of Hollywood, projects the optimism of the cultural Left. They anticipate increased blue-state voting patterns in favor of gay "marriage," legalized pot, gun regulations, and what next? Legalized prostitution? Euthanasia subsidized by Obamacare?

So let's just line up the cultural winners of Obama's America, where the only impediments to progress are those who believe in religion, manners and "family values."

Winner: Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the sick "Family Guy" cartoon and other Fox animated smutcoms on Sunday nights. He'll mock anything to shock the viewer, from portraying Jesus as a lying drunk, to joking Ronald Reagan was gay, even to making fun of domestic violence. Tinseltown loves this man. He guest-hosted "Saturday Night Live" in their season debut, was named host of the 2013 Academy Awards telecast and ABC's Barbara Walters named him one of the year's 10 "Most Fascinating People."

"Seth is the vision and the sensibility behind America's most popular and profitable cartoon series," Walters cooed. "Seth is a hands-on mastermind." She proclaimed, "The 'Family Guy' franchise is said to be worth nearly 2 billion dollars." She concluded by promoting his Oscar hosting gig: "In two months, hundreds of millions will be watching this writer, producer, actor, cartoonist, singer, multi-millionaire and all-around genius, and we'll all find out just how far Seth MacFarlane can go."

MacFarlane's filthy semi-animated movie, "Ted," grossed (literally grossed) $218 million at the box office. This was the movie described efficiently as "a boy's teddy bear comes to life and becomes a profane slacker who practically lives inside a bong and hires hookers in groups." The most unnecessary scene of the year was this teddy bear coming on to a sleazy fellow employee by not only doing pelvic thrusts, but also by spraying himself in the face with hand lotion — a porny orgasm shot on a child's toy.

MILLER: Second Amendment attack backfires - Washington Times

MILLER: Second Amendment attack backfires - Washington Times

Gun grabbers have been exploiting the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., to pursue their long-standing agenda of disarming America. Law-abiding and responsible gun owners are fighting back against the onslaught.
NBC anchor David Gregory acted on Sunday as if D.C. firearms laws didn’t apply to him. He brandished a 30-round rifle magazine on “Meet the Press” during an interview with National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. “Isn’t it just possible that we could reduce the carnage in a situation like Newtown?” Mr. Gregory asked while waving the prohibited object.
A ruthlessly enforced city ordinance makes it unlawful to possess magazines with greater than a 10-round capacity. NBC staff had contacted the Metropolitan Police Department in advance seeking permission to violate the city’s rules for the stunt. According to a spokesman for Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, the request was denied. Mr. Gregory went ahead anyway.
So far, Chief Lanier’s office will only say it has “launched an investigation” into the matter. Several law enforcement sources say that if anyone other than a network news anchor had done this, a warrant already would have been drafted for the perpetrator’s arrest for a crime that carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and one year in jail.
“This is the problem when you have anti-law-enforcement liberals running the city,” said Kristopher Baumann, head of the D.C. police union. “The laws they create are for the little people, and they don’t ever expect those laws to apply to them.”


Read more: http://p.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/27/second-amendment-attack-backfires/#ixzz2GOEV61Wt
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Obama Fiddles, Globalization Burns

Obama Fiddles, Globalization Burns:
The Wall Street Journal’s lead story the other day carried this headline: "Global Currency Tensions Rise: Japan’s Abe Calls on Central Bank to Resist Easing Moves by U.S. and Europe." The story that followed should send a shiver of fear down the spine of anyone who cares about the global economy—and America’s.
That includes Barack Obama. Yet the president seems remarkably unhinged from the ominous realities reflected in the Journal article. Having maneuvered the opposition House Republicans into a position of political vulnerability, he seems bent on going in for the kill, defined by victory on the matter of whether taxes will rise on the top 2 percent of Americans while remaining at George W. Bush-era levels for everyone else.

You Forgot Something!



Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012: The Year Dreams Died

2012: The Year Dreams Died:
Barack Obama in 2008 won an election on an upbeat message of change amid hopes that the first black president would mark a redemptive moment in American history. Four years later, the fantasies are...

No Case for Hagel

No Case for Hagel

The surprising thing about the slew of supposedly "pro-Hagel" pieces—articles that at first blush would seem to say that Chuck Hagel should be the next secretary of defense—is that none actually make the case for Hagel.
The alternative, Chuck Hagel
THE ALTERNATIVE, CHUCK HAGEL
Consider the New York Times op-ed, “Don’t Let Pro-Israel Extremists Sink Chuck Hagel,” by James Besser. Andthisthisthisthis and so on.
Instead, these articles (and many more like them) just attack those concerned that Hagel is not the right man for the job.
No one, I believe, is actually making the argument that Hagel is well qualified to be secretary of defense. No one says Hagel’s own writings make that case; no one says his votes in the Senate are anything beyond an embarrassment; no one is saying he has the proper management experience to guide such a bureaucracy; and no one is pointing to any leadership role Hagel might have had in the Senate. There's a reason for this: There just isn't any evidence to suggest he'd be a good secretary of state. 

Nullify All Federal Gun Control Laws

Nullify ALL Federal Gun Laws
with the just released 2nd Amendment Preservation Act

The 2nd Amendment doesn't allow for ANY federal laws on firearms. Period.

We're sick of the half-measures and the beating around the bush on this essential, natural right - the right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Here's our new model legislation for your state to Nullify every federal gun law:
http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2ndamendmentpreservation/

Kicking The Can Down The Road Is Getting A lot Harder!


The Grim Reaper Speaks

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered a grim prognosis for fiscal cliff talks just days before taxes rise and major spending cuts start to take effect. Blaming Republicans, the Nevada Democrat said there didn't appear to be enough time to get a deal before the New Year. "I don't know time wise how it can happen now," Reid said as he opened a rare holiday week session of the Senate.

Get Rid of the Republican Establishment, Once and for All

Get Rid of the Republican Establishment, Once and for All
Dec 27, 2012
Matt Towery

Here's a New Year's wish I would love to see come true. However it is defined or however many people are part of it, it is time to send the giant never-ending "GOP Establishment" made up of some professional politicians, some moneyed nouveaux riche who -- by virtue of their contributions and the faux friendships it buys with politicians -- consider themselves political landed gentry and the endless scam artist consultants they support packing.
As previously stated, I thought Mitt Romney to be a better candidate than did many observers. That said, the recent revelations in news articles that claim to chronicle the Romney campaign reinforce the idea that the "silk underwear" branch of the GOP just doesn't get it.

The emerging story of a candidate who really didn't want to run in the first place and consultants who never listened to pleas from his own family to humanize the man so that everyday people could "feel like he understands them" just makes conservatives and the GOP faithful sick. They once again spent their hard-earned money and endless time backing another Republican nominee who had no prayer of connecting with the average voter. Never mind that he was, at closer examination, a young man of privilege who outgrew his silver spoon to create his own hard-earned fortune, his case was never properly made.

And why is that? The answer is the current class of Republican "experts" and "consultants" who constantly blow into somewhere outside of their self-indulgent D.C. bubble and believe that they really do understand the "average American" in the 21st century. They do not.

Same for the well-entrenched elected officials, many of whom have gone from scrappy challengers of the status quo to fat and happy potentates. The so-called "experts" just sell any sort of snake oil a candidate or elected official and his loyal leeches will swallow. Hence, terrible focus-group-driven commercials, poor strategy in message and a "get out the vote" effort about as technologically advanced as the telegraph and with all the planning for contingencies as the Hurricane Katrina emergency efforts.

Until Republicans get rid of the inherent haughtiness of their operations, nothing will change. I've always described the GOP Establishment as a bunch who will hold a fundraiser, say, with an incumbent Republican president (don't hold your breath for that again anytime soon) or a nominee, or a governor's inauguration -- you name it -- with one unmentioned thing in mind: themselves. They inevitably make the event like one of those toys with endless boxes within boxes, each smaller than the one before it. That's how they do their big "fundraisers." There's the massive box, holding the masses -- where from the distance of a football field one might catch a fleeting glimpse or hear a bit of a speech or event.

From there on, the boxes get smaller and smaller -- and more elaborate. One huge amount gets you into a private reception; the next more expensive one warrants a 10 second photograph with the political star; then there's the price-busting one that gets you a 30 person private audience -- in which every dupe there fails to note that the leader of the free world or the top person in their state listens, speaks, leaves and likely forgets the whole thing five minutes later.

Oh, and then there is that last box. It's reserved for the same snooty creatures who have run everything in their subdivision of the GOP forever. They often are there because they helped take everyone else's money! But regardless, they are there, in the most private of rooms with the highest of public leaders, just hanging out. They are a small, cozy group -- the elite of the elite. Sort of like today's Republican Party -- a small, cozy group.

If I have to read one more story about some Republican official's great golf handicap or how much they all enjoy the private company of one another, I think I'll be sick.

Republicans need to retool their image and their mindset. Just shed all the king's trappings and some of the king's men. Keep the hardworking and in-touch ones, bring in fresh faces, understand the mindset of the next generation, but more than anything articulate what they stand for and, damn it, stand for it.


A little fire in the belly and purpose for being elected and holding office in the first place could at least start to get the GOP turned around before it really is too late.

U.S. Treasury, Trying to Duck Borrowing Limit, Will Stop Investing in Gov't Retirement Funds | CNS News

U.S. Treasury, Trying to Duck Borrowing Limit, Will Stop Investing in Gov't Retirement Funds | CNS News

Liberals press own red lines in ‘fiscal cliff’ talks - Washington Times

Liberals press own red lines in ‘fiscal cliff’ talks - Washington Times

Republicans said Wednesday that it’s now Democratic leaders’ turn to feel the heat of trying to work out a budget deal.
After House conservatives sank his plan last week, Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, and his top lieutenants said it’s now up to President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, to take the next step and try to write a deal that can get through the Senate.
But Mr. Obama and Mr. Reid are facing increasing heat from their party’s left flank to make sure Social Security isn’t part of any agreement.
Some liberal leaders have drawn red lines, and one pressure group has vowed to find primary opponents for any Democrat who votes for a deal that includes reductions in projected Social Security benefits.
“We will not be voting for any cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security,” said Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat and co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “They can go back and recalculate and come up with something else, because we’re not going to solve these fiscal problems on the backs of the seniors, of the disabled, of the survivors.”


Read more: http://p.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/26/liberals-press-own-red-lines-in-fiscal-cliff-talks/#ixzz2GGORSgwF
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The Tea Party Has Not Yet Begun to Fight

The Tea Party Has Not Yet Begun to Fight:
The latest attempt is today's front-page article by the New York Times, which alleges that the Tea Party is turning to "narrower" issues and suggests, none too subtly, that Congress should stop pa...

Obama's Legacy: $20 Trillion in Deficits

Obama's Legacy: $20 Trillion in Deficits:
The fiscal-cliff negotiations have deteriorated into an embarrassing travesty of competing press conferences, off-the-record remarks, closed meetings, and sound bites. The Republican side is frus...

The President's Obsession With Raising Taxes

The President's Obsession With Raising Taxes:
Get ready, all you “millionaires and billionaires” with kids in college and taxes to pay on your homes in and around New York City.

It doesn’t matter that you bring home just $250,000 a ...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

OBAMA AND CONGRESS STAGE ANOTHER 'SHOW' ON FISCAL CLIFF

OBAMA AND CONGRESS STAGE ANOTHER 'SHOW' ON FISCAL CLIFF

by MIKE FLYNN 26 Dec 2012
Breitbart
The last few weeks were apparently so much fun, DC has decided to get the gang back together to stage another round of talks on the "fiscal cliff." Last night, the White House announced that Obama will cut short his Christmas vacation and return to DC to resume negotiations on avoiding automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect Tuesday. Congress had already announced its intention to go back into session Thursday. This flurry of activity, however, is nothing but theater.
Last week, House Republicans failed to bring to a vote Speaker Boehner's "Plan B," which extended tax breaks for everyone making less than $1 million a year. House Leadership simply didn't have the votes to pass its plan. It is unclear what additional progress can be made in the five remaining days.
The chief problem for the GOP, which is increasingly desperate to reach a deal, is that Obama and the Democrats have very little incentive to reach a deal. Going over the cliff results in deep cuts to Defense spending and a large bucket of new tax revenue. Both of those items are on the DNC's wish list.
When the hit to the economy becomes clear, Obama, with a powerful assist from the media, can simply blame the GOP for going over "the cliff." The public will be easily persuaded, because one of the only things they know about negotiations so far is that Republicans in the House didn't have the votes to pass their "plan."
Worse than this for the GOP, however, is that Obama actually has a powerful incentive to ensure we go over the cliff. Before the end of the month, he can go before Congress to deliver his State of the Union address and push lawmakers to back a tax-cut for the middle class, restoring the tax provisions that expired for them at the start of the month. He can further tie the tax cut to a sizable hike in the debt ceiling.
To oppose a debt ceiling hike, the GOP would have to oppose tax cuts. To support tax cuts, they would have to support lifting the debt ceiling. Why would Obama negotiate away that kind of leverage?
Obama, however, must look like he is trying to negotiate a resolution. He has to hint that he is willing to make concessions, but make sure they are vague enough that the GOP can't offer a specific counter. Obama's stage-craft is just a prelude, though, to the looming talks over the debt ceiling, which will likely have to be lifted in February or March.
Even if Congress were to somehow duct-tape together some kind of deal to postpone the cliff for a few weeks, the debt ceiling debate is the real fight ahead. Those machinations will make the current "fiscal cliff" talks look like regional community theater.

Entitlements and interest drive spending and fiscal crisis!



Where's Hillary?

Where's Hillary?

On December 15, the day after the day after the shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, State Department officials notified the press that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had fallen ill. "While suffering from a stomach virus, Secretary Clinton became dehydrated and fainted, sustaining a concussion," deputy assistant secretary Philippe Reines said in a statement to the press
Clinton, Hillary
Since then, Clinton does not appear to have been sighted in public.
On December 19, Clinton missed the State Department holiday party. “I was going to congratulate her on her record-breaking travel,” President Obama said, noting her absence. “These are not frequent-flyer miles,” he joked. “She is tireless and extraordinary.”
On the same day as her office announced her illness, they also put out word that Clinton would be missing the Benghazi hearing scheduled for December 20 on Capitol Hill. Indeed, she did miss that hearing, and another one has not yet been scheduled.
And on December 21, Clinton missed President Obama's announcement that John Kerry would be nominated as the next secretary of state. "Hillary wanted very much to be here today, but she continues to recuperate.  I had a chance to talk to her earlier today, and she is in good spirits and could not be more excited about the announcement that I’m making," Obama said at that event, again noting Clinton's absence.
Clinton's last trip, to the Czech Republic, Belgium, Ireland, and Northern Ireland, returned December 7. 

Report: GOP senators won’t confirm Kerry until Clinton testifies on Benghazi

Report: GOP senators won’t confirm Kerry until Clinton testifies on Benghazi

December 26, 2012 | 3:07 pm



Republican senators will refuse to confirm Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as Secretary of State until the nation’s current top diplomat, Hillary Clinton, testifies about her handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack.

“The Senate is expected to take up Kerry’s nomination in early January, but multiple Republican senators have already said they won’t agree to a vote on Kerry’s nomination until Clinton testifies about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi,” The Cable’s Josh Rogin notes.

Clinton backed out of testifying at a congressional hearing last week after fainting and suffering a concussion. She was the first cabinet-level official to acknowledge that terrorists played a role in the assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

“For some time, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and other groups have launched attacks and kidnappings from northern Mali into neighboring countries,” Clinton said during a United Nations meeting in New York on September 26. “Now, with a larger safe haven and increased freedom to maneuver, terrorists are seeking to extend their reach and their networks in multiple directions. And they are working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions underway in North Africa, as we tragically saw in Benghazi,” (emphasis added).

A week earlier, though, Clinton was content to have people such as the father of Tyrone Woods — the former Navy Seal killed during the attack on Benghazi — believe that an anti-Islam Youtube video was the occasion for the assault, which took place on the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

“Well, this is what Hillary did,” Mr. Woods said of his meeting with Clinton immediately following the assault. “She came over and, you know, she did the same thing, separately came over and talked with me. I gave her a hug, shook her hand, and she did not appear to be one bit sincere at all. She mentioned that thing about, ‘We’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video.’ That was the first time I had even heard about anything like that.”

Obama's Hidden-Tax Heist

Obama's Hidden-Tax Heist:
How is it possible that the government can spend almost twice as much as it takes in without having high inflation? The fact is that over a long period of time, it can't. In the short run, which ca...

State-Run Broadcasting Pushes for Taxes | CNS News

State-Run Broadcasting Pushes for Taxes | CNS News

A "serious" proposal is one that has a reasonable expectation of resolving a conflict. Anyone studying Speaker Boehner's Plan B proposal knows it wasn't serious. Why are so many defending it and bemoaning its defeat?

It tells you an awful lot about the dishonest nature of politics in America today.

Republicans — fiscally conservative Republicans — have argued since forever that tax increases diminish economic growth. For the past two years, they have argued that increasing taxes on the "wealthy" would wreak havoc on our fragile (at best) economy. In fact, three studies have confirmed that this "millionaires tax," now endorsed by Plan B Boehner, would cost America 700,000 jobs, an unmitigated disaster.

The problem, as has endlessly been trumpeted by this camp, is spending, not taxes, with entitlement reform as the solution. Plan B does nothing of substance here.

A "meaningless" proposal is one that has no reasonable expectation of resolving a conflict. Plan B is that in spades.

So how do Republicans, so desperate to be a party to the resolution of our fiscal crisis, square the hole? They declare that a tax is not a tax, and a lack of spending restraint is spending restraint.

Boehner and Co. have been as politically incoherent as Team Obama has been skillful. The Democrats have co-opted one hallmark GOP issue after another. The final one was taxes. Incredibly, it's the party of McGovern, Carter, Kerry and Kennedy that is now the champion of fiscal responsibility: tax cuts for everyone except the greedy rich who need to pay their fair share.

EDITORIAL: Another Massachusetts miracle? - Washington Times

EDITORIAL: Another Massachusetts miracle? - Washington Times

Sen. John Kerry is on track to become the next secretary of state. Already, Massachusetts Democrats are scrambling for a candidate to fill the Senate vacancy he would leave behind. Conventional wisdom holds that, in a deep blue state, the eventual Democratic nominee is a shoo-in to win a special election. Not so fast.
An open seat would give defeated Republican Sen. Scott Brown another chance to return to Capitol Hill. In November, he lost to Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren in one of the nation’s highest-profile Senate races. Mrs. Warren, a Harvard law professor, benefited from the state’s powerful Democratic machine. She rode President Obama’s electoral coattails, dashing Mr. Brown’s hopes at winning re-election.
The Massachusetts Republican stunned the political establishment in 2010. Mr. Brown rose to national prominence after defeating Democrat Martha Coakley in a special election triggered by the death of long-time liberal Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Portraying himself as a moderate GOP populist, Mr. Brown managed to achieve a near-impossible feat: He broke theDemocratic Party’s stranglehold on the Bay State. For this he won national notoriety, which also painted a huge target on his back.
Political lightning could strike twice. Should Mr. Brown decide to seek the GOP nomination (and indications are he’s interested), he would likely run unopposed. The reason is simple: Mr. Brown is still widely popular and well known. Even many Warren supporters told exit pollsters they had a favorable impression of the GOP moderate. Mr. Brown’s brand of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism, along with his folksy campaigning style, has endeared him to many Massachusetts voters. His greatest weapon, however, could be his opposition.


Read more: http://p.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/26/another-massachusetts-miracle/#ixzz2GAlASXtG
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