National Debt Clock

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The 2009 Index of Dependence on Government

Obama, who 'Excluded Lobbyists', has Appointed 50

The appointment of the 50th lobbyist to a policymaking job by a president who claims he's "excluded" them.

It's important here to set the record straight about what a senator's "hold" is. A "hold" cannot prevent confirmation or even block a vote on confirmation -- that requires a 41-vote filibuster to block cloture or one-man filibuster right out of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." A "hold" is an objection to the unanimous-consent decree that would allow confirmation without debate.

So, most of Obama's recess nominations were not about circumventing a filibuster -- labor lawyer Craig Becker was the only one of the 15 who was being filibustered. The other 14 recess appointments were efforts to avoid debate and discussion. Obama says he just wants to get down to business. But given Obama's clear desire to portray his administration as lobbyist-free, it's also good politics to skip a public floor debate over four lobbyist appointees.

UK Pet Shop Owner Fined £1,000, Told to Wear an Electronic Tag...For Selling a GOLDFISH to a 14 Year Old Boy

Her offence was to unwittingly sell a goldfish to a 14-year-old boy taking part in a trading standards 'sting'.

At most, pet shop owner Joan Higgins, 66, expected a slap on the wrist for breaking new animal welfare laws which ban the sale of pets to under-16s.

Instead, the great-grandmother was taken to court, fined £1,000, placed under cufrew- and ordered to wear an electronic tag for two months.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Wyden-Gregg Bipartisan Tax Reform Bill: Why Congress Should Listen

Despite protestations that the wealthy benefited the most from the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, those reductions lowered taxes for all taxpayers and sped up a decades-long trend of moving the tax burden to a declining proportion of upper-income taxpayers. In 2006, the latest year of available data, the top 1 percent of income earners paid more than 40 percent of all income taxes. The bottom 50 percent paid just 3 percent of all income taxes.

On the corporate side, Wyden-Gregg does even better. The bill turns the progressive corporate income tax into a 24 percent flat tax. This lower rate would greatly increase the competitiveness of American businesses and make the United States a more attractive place for new business investment. With a flat rate of 24 percent, the U.S. rate would be below the average 25 percent rate of other developed countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The treatment of retirement savings is one of the strongest points of the Wyden-Gregg bill. The bill expands tax-free savings by consolidating the various forms of IRAs into one Retirement Savings Account and offers a new Lifetime Savings Account. These adjustments will allow families to put away up to $14,000 a year for retirement in addition to what they can save through 401(k) plans. These new opportunities would help families save for retirement and increase the savings rate. Further reducing taxes on all savings, not just for retirement, would encourage even more saving and investing and promote economic growth.

First, it reduces the number of tax brackets and rates for individuals from six to three. It also makes the corporate income tax a 24 percent flat tax. Second, it drastically reduces the number of credits, deductions, and exemptions for families and businesses. Lastly, it completely abolishes the AMT. In addition to reducing complexity, the abolition of the AMT will also remove the threat that the AMT will raise taxes on middle-income families. The AMT is intended to affect only high earners, but the minimum income that designates families for the AMT is not indexed for inflation.

Repealed Death Tax Would Liven Industry

It is a tremendous burden because, despite appearing valuable on paper, Reliable and other similar businesses do not have sufficient cash available to pay the tax. Reliable has many high-cost assets, such as bulldozers and dump trucks.

Social Security to Run Deficit in 2010

The Congressional Budget Office now predicts the Social Security fund will pay out more than it earns starting this year -- as in it’s happening right now.

That’s just a shade off of last year’s forecast, which expected the fund to run a deficit starting in late 2016.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Healthy Dose of Catastrophe

Congress voted to subject the 28 percent tax benefit to the regular good ol' American-as-apple-pie corporate tax rate of 35 percent. For the purposes of comparison, Sweden's corporate tax rate is 26.3 percent, and Ireland's is 12.5 percent. But just because America already has the highest corporate tax in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development is no reason why we can't keep going until it's double Sweden's and quadruple Ireland's.

If you impose a sudden 35 percent tax on something, are you likely to get as much of it? Go on, take a wild guess. On the day President Obama signed Obamacare into law, Verizon sent an e-mail to all its employees warning that the company's costs "will increase in the short term." And in the medium term? Well, U.S. corporations that are able to do so will get out of their prescription drug plans and toss their retirees onto the Medicare pile. So far, just three companies - John Deere & Co., Caterpillar and Valero Energy Corp. - have calculated that the loss of the deduction will add a combined $265 million to their costs. An additional 3,500 businesses presently claim the break. The cost to taxpayers of that 28 percent benefit is about $665 per person. The cost to taxpayers of equivalent Medicare coverage is about $1,200 per person. So we're roughly doubling the cost of covering an estimated 5 million retirees.

Friday, March 26, 2010

2,000 House Staffers Make Six Figures

Nearly 2,000 House of Representative staffers pulled down six-figure salaries in 2009, including 43 staffers who earned the maximum $172,500 — or more than three times the median U.S. household income.

The 43 staffers who maxed out at $172,500 — the salary cap for leadership and committee staffers — include John Lawrence, chief of staff to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Paula Nowakowski, the late chief of staff to House Minority Leader John Boehner; and House Parliamentarian John Sullivan. They earned only slightly less than rank-and-file members of Congress, who make $174,000.

Obamacare Prescription: 'Emergency Health Army'

According to Section 5210 of HR 3590, titled "Establishing a Ready Reserve Corps," the force must be ready for "involuntary calls to active duty during national emergencies and public health crises."

The health-care legislation adds millions of dollars for recruitment and amends Section 203 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 204), passed July 1, 1944, during Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency. The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is one of the seven uniformed services in the U.S. However, Obama's changes more than double the wording of the Section 203 and dub individuals who are currently classified as officers in the Reserve Corps commissioned officers of the Regular Corps.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Obama Administration Awarded Hundreds of Thousands in Airport Grants to Stupak’s District 2 Days Before Vote

Was this Yet Another Backroom Deal to Force Obama’s Bill Down the American People’s Throats?

Three airports in the district of infamous fence-sitting and ultimately kowtowing Democrat Bart Stupak were awarded $726,409 in grants by the Obama Administration just two days before a vote on Obama and Pelosi’s government takeover of healthcare.

Did Stupak compromise his supposed principled stand against taxpayer funding of abortion in exchange for taxpayer dollars for pet projects?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Macroeconomic Effects of Obamacare
  • Result in an average of 115,000 lost job opportunities per year
  • Reduce productivity by an average 0.01 percentage points per year
  • Lose $1.37 in gross domestic product (GDP) for every dollar of additional revenue collected
  • Reduce household disposable income by $17.3 billion[1] per year
  • Reduce the stock of household real net wealth by an average $267 billion per year.

U.S. Risks AAA Rating

Two-year notes sold by the billionaire’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in February yield 3.5 basis points less than Treasuries of similar maturity, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Procter & Gamble Co., Johnson & Johnson and Lowe’s Cos. debt also traded at lower yields in recent weeks, a situation former Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. chief fixed-income strategist Jack Malvey calls an “exceedingly rare” event in the history of the bond market.

What House Passage of the Senate Health Bill Means for America

New Middle-Class Taxes. The President solemnly promised that he would not impose any new taxes on American households making less than $250,000. The Senate bill shatters this promise.

For example, the excise tax on high-cost health insurance plans would overwhelmingly hit middle-class taxpayers. Likewise, special federal premium taxes in the Senate bill would also be passed down to consumers, resulting in premium increases that would be higher than they would otherwise be.[6] In addition to taxes on health insurance, the Senate bill would also create new taxes on medical necessities such as prescription drugs and medical devices.[7]

Beyond these new taxes, the President’s proposal would add yet another provision (presumably for consideration in the budget reconciliation process) that would tax investment income. This would result in 115,000 lost job opportunities and a net reduction of $17.3 billion annually in household disposable income.[8] Amidst a recession, this is a stunningly bad idea.

Increased Health Insurance Premiums. The President initially promised that Americans would see a $2,500 annual reduction in their family health care costs. But under the Senate bill, premiums would go up for millions of Americans. In fact, according to the CBO, estimated premiums in the individual market would be 10–13 percent higher by 2016 than they would be under current law.[9]