January 31, 2009

Oh George?

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:48 pm

GeorgeVoinovich_thumb0109Customizing Michelle Malkin’s more general question (“What will the Bend Over Republicans do with tax cheat Tom Daschle?”) to the specifics of the Ohio Senator George Voinovich, the senator I’ve given up on trying to figure out (actually, given up on, period):

  1. Will you say that taxpaying Ohioans have a problem with the Daschle nomination, as you did with Timothy Geithner’s nomination for Treasury, and then vote for Daschle at crunch time?
  2. Will you again say that you voted “yes” because Daschle is the best guy available for the job, and that the other guys would have been worse?
  3. If you vote for Daschle, what is your upper limit for tax avoidance/evasion that constitutes unacceptability for a Cabinet position? Do you even have one?

Daschle’s Tax Dodging: (Of Course) There’s Even More Than Originally Reported

Daschle0109.jpgSleep a little, miss a lot.

As noted Friday evening (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Jake Tapper at ABC’s Political Punch blog revealed that former South Dakota senator Tom Daschle, Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, had failed to pay over $100,000 in federal income taxes for 2005, 2006, and 2007, because he did not originally report the “the services of (a free) car and driver” provided to him by his employer, private equity firm InterMedia Advisers.

At 11:24 last night, Tapper posted a separate update (HT to NB commenter “slickwillie2001“) indicating that Daschle’s tax problems involve larger amounts, go well beyond the matter of a “mere” car and driver, and are not completely resolved (bolds are mine):

….. Mr. Daschle also didn’t report $83,333 in consulting income in 2007.

The Senate Finance Committee Report also notes that during the vetting process, President Obama’s Transition Team “identified certain donations that did not qualify as charitable deductions because they were not paid to qualifying organizations. Daschle adjusted his contribution deductions on his amended returns for 2005, 2006 and 2007 to remove these amounts and add additional contributions.” This adjustment meant a reduction in the amount he contributed to charitable foundations of $14,963 from 2005 through 2007.

With the unreported income from the use of a car service in the amounts of $73,031 in 2005, $89,129 in 2006 and $93,096 in 2007; the unreported consulting income of $83,333 in 2007; and the adjusted reductions in charitable contributions, Daschle adds a total of $353,552 in additional income and reduced donations, meaning an additional tax payment of $128,203, in addition to $11,964 in interest.

On January 2 of this year, Daschle filed amended tax returns to pay the $140,167 in unpaid taxes.

The Finance Committee staff still is reviewing whether travel and entertainment services provided Tom and Linda Daschle by EduCap, Inc., Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation, Academy Achievement, and Loan to Learn should be reported as income. Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Daschle made use of the jet belonging to EduCap, a non-profit student loan organization.

The timing of these revelations smacks of “clever” Obama administration news management that I believe would have brought howls of outrage from establishment media if it had occurred during the previous administration:

  • The car and driver item that was trotted out first, while admittedly large, can be (and was) framed as somewhat understandable (poor guy, “he thought it was a gift”).
  • Failure to report income, which ABC apparently had to find on its own once Team Obama dangled the driver angle, is quite another matter. Daschle almost certainly received a Form 1099 relating to that income. Barring unusual circumstances, he should have reported the amount listed. It appears that he didn’t.
  • The charitable deductions problem, while smaller, could also be more embarrassing, especially if we ever get to learn the identities of the organizations that really weren’t qualifying charities.
  • Given that there are four separate different organizations that provided “travel and entertainment services” to the Daschles, there may be a web of relationships that, if uncovered, might reveal conflicts of interest.

The news release strategy appears to have been to get the media to focus on the car and driver, and make them dig up the rest over the weekend while no one is paying attention. I suspect the media outrage over this degree of apparent news management will be a big, fat zero.

The potentially most odious aspect of the Daschle dodge is that even a Senate turndown may not keep him out of the Obama administration. In a post last Sunday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted a Politico.com report on the Obama adminstration’s unprecedented concentration of power in non-Cabinet positions that report directly to the President. As Tapper reiterated in his original post yesterday, Daschle has one of those positions:

Should Daschle have difficulty being confirmed — a prospect that seems unlikely given the benefit of the doubt senators frequently extend to one another, not to mention the Senate’s Democratic majority — he doesn’t have to worry about finding another job in the administration, since President Obama has also appointed him to serve as director of the new White House Office on Health Reform.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: According to Wikipedia, “In his first year, he (Daschle) was appointed to the (Senate) Finance Committee.”

January 30, 2009

Driving Mr. Daschle: HHS Nominee Has $100,000 ‘Geithner Problem’

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:26 pm

Daschle0109.jpgFormer South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle (picture at right is part of a Getty Images pic at a related New York Times story) has just upped the ante in Washington’s tax-avoiding/evading game of “Can you top this?”

Whereas recently confirmed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner “only” $40,000 in back taxes and interest, principally relating to unpaid Social Security and Medicare taxes (with a dash of retirement-plan penalty and illegally deducted overnight summer camp expenses included in the mix), the man who Rush Limbaugh used to call “Puff” Daschle during his Senate days has upped to ante to six figures.

Jake Tapper at ABC’s Political Punch appears to be the one who broke the story (HT NRO’s The Corner):

Bumps in the Road: Obama’s HHS Secretary Nominee Faces Tax Questions Over Car and Driver

….. After being defeated in his 2004 re-election campaign to the Senate, Daschle in 2005 became a consultant and chairman of the executive advisory board at InterMedia Advisors.

Based in New York City, InterMedia Advisors is a private equity firm founded in part by longtime Daschle friend and Democratic fundraiser Leo Hindery, the former president of the YES network (the New York Yankees’ and New Jersey Devils’ cable television channel).

That same year he began his professional relationship with InterMedia, Daschle began using the services of Hindery’s car and driver.

The Cadillac and driver were never part of Daschle’s official compensation package at InterMedia, but Mr. Daschle — who as Senate majority leader enjoyed the use of a car and driver at taxpayer expense — didn’t declare their services on his income taxes, as tax laws require.

During the vetting process to become HHS secretary, Daschle corrected the tax violation, voluntarily paying $101,943 in back taxes plus interest, working with his accountant to amend his tax returns for 2005 through 2007.

(Daschle reimbursed the IRS $31,462 in taxes and interest for tax year 2005; $35,546 for 2006; and $34,935 for 2007, a Daschle spokesperson said, adding that Daschle had asked his accountant to look into the tax implications of the car and driver five months before Obama won the presidency.)

The Daschle spokesperson told ABC News that the senator, facing questions from the committee, has said “he deeply regretted his mistake. When he realized it was a mistake he corrected it rapidly.”

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., has called his colleagues for a private meeting at 5 p.m. ET Monday to discuss these complications surrounding Daschle’s nomination.

In the meantime, the White House and Democratic allies are coming to Daschle’s defense.

What follows in Tapper’s report are the typical “no big deal” Democratic claims, with White House Deputy Secretary Bill Burton leading the charge, along with Jim Manley, a spokesman for Harry Reid. Republican Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia counters by saying that “The pattern is solidified. … It’s easy for the other side to sit here and advocate higher taxes because — you know what? — they don’t pay them.”

Ceci Connolly at the Washington Post reports the daft dodge developed by Daschle:

Daschle spokeswoman Jenny Backus said that Daschle “naively” believed the car service was a “generous offer from a friend,” and he discovered only last summer that it is considered reportable income.

Daschle brought the matter to the attention of the Senate Finance Committee “when he submitted his nomination forms,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in an e-mailed statement tonight. “We are confident the committee is going to schedule a hearing for him very soon and he will be confirmed.”

So why this became a story during the traditional Friday night news dump, when fewer people are paying attention to what’s going on (and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have to wait almost 72 hours before they can pounce on their radio shows)? How long have any senators known about this, and if it’s more than about 24 hours, why didn’t this break once it was known?

Best question: Is six figures the limit before a tax problem becomes important enough to stop a nomination? Do I hear seven?

But the real entertainment in this will be seeing how (probably not “if”) the Associated Press and other media outlets minimize the significance of the Daschle Dodge. Will they pull out their Geithner words again (“Goofs.” “Discrepancies”), or get even more “creative”?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Fourth Quarter 2008 GDP Report: Where We Learn Just How Poor the POR Economy Is (Update: Bad Enough at an Annual -3.8%; Hinting Recovery?)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:11 am

Overview (added in June 2008): Welcome to the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Recession as normal people define it.

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Well, that long-awaited day is here — the day where we get the first major indication just how bad the damage has been from the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy we’ve been living with since  June 2008.

The third quarter of 2008 came in at an annualized -0.5%.

That’s bad enough, but as you might expect, predictions for the fourth quarter are coming in much worse:

(Link)

Economists polled by Reuters offered a median estimate of a 5.4 percent decline in U.S. gross domestic product on an annualized basis in the fourth quarter, the worst since the first quarter of 1982.

The estimates of 81 economists ranged from a decline of 3.0 percent to a drop of 7.0 percent.

(Link — Don’t let the Obama Administration see this; they want us to assume we’re all gonna die unless his “Porkulus” package passes)

Strange as it may sound, there is a way an ugly fourth-quarter gross-domestic-product report could be a sign good news is afoot.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis on Friday takes its first crack at estimating GDP in the last quarter of 2008. Economists think inflation-adjusted GDP fell at a 5.5% annualized rate, the worst since 1982, as the economy was suffocated by the disappearance of credit.

Often such sharp declines in GDP are followed by significant snapbacks. The quarter following a GDP decline of 5% or more is positive 69% of the time in the past 48 such episodes in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, according to Merrill Lynch international economist Alex Patelis. He calls it a “heart attack” pattern because GDP’s course mimics the jagged line on an electrocardiogram.

(Link — These guys got the Obamemo)

Many economists think the decline will be a whopping 5 percent or more – which would make it the worst quarter for the U.S. economy since 1982.

“When we see fourth-quarter GDP … it will be bad,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHSGlobal Insight, an economic forecasting firm in Lexington, Mass. “What today’s numbers tell us is that first-quarter 2009 will be just as bad.”

(link)

Ben Herzon, senior economist of Macroeconomic Advisers, who said the GDP growth rate will likely be negative 5.5 percent, told USA Today, “It’s going to confirm what we already know, and that is we’re in a severe recession.”

Gloom has grown with the spreading realization of the refusal by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to back down from their insistence on starving the economy of energy in the name of what might be the greatest fraud in human history, Barack Obama’s campaign promises of huge tax increases on the most productive (deferred but not deleted), and, more recently, the dogged determination on the part of all three players to ram a comically misnamed “stimulus” down the economy’s throat.

What to watch for: How many media outlets “forget” to include the word “annualized” or “annual rate” in their coverage, giving many viewers the impression that the economy shrunk by the amount reported all in one quarter (See Update below — The prediction came true twice in 20 minutes.)

The report will be here at 8:30. Here it is

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — decreased at an annual rate of 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, (that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP decreased 0.5 percent.

Initial reax: Well, that wasn’t as bad as just about everyone thought. In fact, I’d characterize this as a huge miss by the prognosticators. It won’t be seen as that obvious, but it’s really no different than guessing -1.0% and having it turn out a bit less than +1.0%, which would most certainly raise eyebrows.

Initial theory: Factors cited in this post (lower gas prices, lower mortgage rates) began taking hold in December. This means that Obama’s race against the economy recovering on its own may indeed be on, and his lead may not be as great as he thought (better pass the Porkulus package quick, before those January and February reports start coming out).

I’ll have more to say later after reviewing the report and gauging media reaction.

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UPDATE: The prediction that the media would make this look like a one-quarter drop came true very quickly — as in twice in the first 20 minutes after the release.

USAandCNNre4Q08GDP

No reference to an annualized rate is present in either e-mail.

No one other than the economically astute or close followers of the news reading either of these e-mails would think that the economy really only contracted by 0.94% in the fourth quarter, which is what an annualized 3.8% is.

UPDATE 2: The smaller-than-expected decrease is mostly due to an inventory buildup, per Bloomberg — “Without the jump in inventories, the contraction would have been 5.1 percent ….”

This is where the alarming irresponsibility of Team Obama comes into to play. They’ve been playing the “worst economy since the Great Depression” tune for months. The fact is, we don’t know that, and the numbers, even including today’s GDP, objectively don’t support that claim. But if THEY say it enough and keep consumer confidence at its alltime low, it could happen.

Businesses aren’t stupid. They tend to build up inventories when they either have orders or reasonably expect orders. If Obama and his peeps keep on talking down the economy and their gloom continues to have impact, those expected orders won’t materialize and other existing orders will be cancelled. This will leave businesses sitting on inventories they can’t move. This will cause the contraction to be worse than it could have or should have been.

Like I said, this is alarming irresponsibility, and the press is playing right along.

I can’t help but wondering if this is what they (Obama and the press) really want, given their determination to pass — and quickly (hurry, hurry!) a mis-advertised spending bill containing a trillion dollars (including interest) of their party’s fondest spendaholic dreams.

If we’re supposed to believe that Team Obama doesn’t want to take down the economy, the question becomes: What would they be doing differently if they did want to take it down?

UPDATE 3: Following up on the points in Update 2 –

President Barack Obama says the economic slump is a “continuing disaster” for America’s families and says the country’s leaders can’t “drag our feet” on finding solutions for the ailing economy.”

Pictured at the left is the Master of Disaster. At his right, based on his performance thus far, just as the POR Economy has “achieved” a recession as traditionally defined, is a True Disaster:

news-apollocreed news-apollocreed

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘The Myth of the ‘Widening Gap Between Rich and Poor”’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:24 am

It’s here.

It will go up Sunday morning at BizzyBlog (link won’t work until then) under the title “The ‘Growing Income Inequality’ Myth: A Convenient Partisan Club” after the blackout expires.

Left on the cutting room floor: Dealing with income mobility, the relative ease with which people move between income groups depending on changes in circumstances, especially between generations. Previous BizzyBlog posts on the subject are:

  • Nov. 13, 2007 — Treasury’s Income Mobility Report Blows Away ‘Mediocre Bush Economy’ and Other Myths
  • Sept. 30, 2007 — The Forbes 400: A Lesson in Economics Old Media Won’t Learn
  • Sept. 29, 2005 — Income Inequality + Economic Mobility = Long-Term Prosperity
January 29, 2009

Strickland’s State of the State: Quick Comments

Filed under: Economy,Education,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:47 pm

UPDATE, Jan. 30: For those who want to compare Strickland’s SOS riff on education to his promises, you can look here at the education element of his “Turnaround Ohio” plan in the 2006 campaign. Note, as I did in February 2007, that Team Strickland didn’t tell us during the 2006 campaign that he wouldn’t get around to dealing with education “reform” until two years after he took office.

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I may see the need to supplement this tonight, but at the moment I don’t think so.

The full speech is here; my unevaluated excerpts from last night are here.

I see a number of things that jump out:

  • SCHIP, with its 300% of the poverty line threshold, now gets to about 80% of the median income in the state for families of 2, 3, and 4. That means, as an educated guess, that maybe 45% of all families at that size are eligible. Hmm. If you were an employer whose workforce was entirely relatively low earners, why would you bother having a health plan? Ding-ding: That ‘s the goal — State-run health care. It’s getting closer.
  • Health care coverage for “dependents” up to age 29. Believe me, Ted doesn’t mean “dependents” in the way the IRS does. He wants anyone still living with Mom and Dad to be able to latch on to Mom and Dad’s coverage. This is horribly expensive, will drive costs up, and will in some cases cause extended families to live together — not that it’s a bad thing in and of itself, but it sure runs contrary to the way most homes are built and the expectations of most people these days.
  • Three C passenger rail — This has been studied time and time again. It’s a massive, massive waste of money on a service almost no one will use. We have a mass-transit system known as the interstate highway system and supporting roads, and (amazing) it goes door-to-door! If you want something like this without the horrible capital investment, buy Greyhound’s routes in Ohio.
  • Ted seems almost joyful that the state funds the majority of school costs. This is not good. This means the state controls the schools, and localities really don’t. Other proposals the Governor has made only go to prove that. No school district can dare to go against the grain.
  • Longer school year — I’m not sure it’s necessary, and I somehow doubt we’ll get 10% more school year without incurring 10% more in salaries.
  • All-day kindergarten — For a guy whose party is supposedly “for the children,” this is a really tone-deaf proposal. Part of why kindergarten is a time-tested half-day is that many children have a hard time leaving home. This is legitimately traumatic, especially where the emotional bonds are close (i.e., where the parenting has been pretty good). Being gone 3 hours a day is a manageable trauma. For many, going from zero to six or seven isn’t. The solution? (Here it comes) universal pre-school. I fail to see the need for taking kids away from their parents so much, and so much earlier.
  • The move away from standardized tests to the ACT looks like a move away from accountability. I may be wrong, but I don’t think Ted sees a low ACT score as keeping a kid from graduating high school. If a kid isn’t functionally literate, something should.
  • The plan to let property taxes go up with inflation sounds nice, but frankly, the voters need to be able to vent their frustrations if the schools aren’t performing, and making the district ask for every increase is the only way I see to do that.

Demeaned DeMint: Politico’s Piece, 70 Days After Events Involved, Is Oddly Timed

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:44 am

DeMint0109.jpgWhat motivated Politico to take a two month-old story  about South Carolina GOP Senator Jim DeMint (picture at right is from that story) out of mothballs and put it out there right now?

That question inevitably occurs to a careful reader of Manu Raju’s “Republicans Chew on DeMint” story that appeared at the site Tuesday. It primarily covers the goings-on at a November 18 Republican Conference meeting in Washington. There is another reference to summer votes on global AIDS and housing bills.

So why is that news now? Well, it’s not hard to believe that it’s because DeMint’s mindset is making headway with fellow Republicans in Washington. Beat reporters, as well as turf-protecting and mostly unnamed senators and senate aides, are likely not at all happy about that.

I realize it’s the other chamber of Congress, but yesterday’s unanimous GOP “no” to the stimulus/”Porkulus” bill by House Republicans is a sign that the Party of Lincoln may be on the road back to its roots. By holding the line, Minority Leader John Boehner and his colleagues, at least for one day, made it clear that core beliefs mean something. Jim DeMint surely welcomed that result.

The same can’t be said for Senate GOPers sniping about DeMint, as Raju reports (bolds are mine):

….. some Senate Republicans say privately that DeMint has done plenty to humiliate himself.

As Republicans seek a way forward after two disastrous elections, social and fiscal conservative activists off Capitol Hill are rallying behind DeMint because of his unrelenting style to force his party to return to its small-government, free market roots.

….. But DeMint is less willing to compromise with Democrats than many in his party, and some Senate Republicans doubt his fiery tactics can lead their party out of the political wilderness when the public is seeking an end to legislative gridlock.

DeMint’s critics, including senior Republican senators and top aides in the Senate, say his refusal to work within the norms of the body — by showing deference to party leaders and chairmen and building support behind closed doors without airing concerns first to the news media — undermines his ability to draw support for his cause.

In interviews, some aides and senators say privately that while they believe he is fighting for a worthy cause, the drama he creates between GOP leaders and himself is designed to project his image as an unyielding reformer — even though he agrees with his leaders on most issues.

….. DeMint, up for reelection in 2010, is genial by nature and says he tried to work within the Capitol’s seniority system during his three terms in the House and his first two years in the Senate.

But he has learned, he said, that lawmakers in both parties “only respond to pain.”

“They don’t respond to good policy, persuasion, being nice. I’ve tried it all,” he said. “There’s nobody nicer than I am.”

In a chamber where relationship building is seen as paramount to legislative successes, DeMint said that “club friendships [have become] more important than the party and where we’re going as a country.”

Taking the bolds one at a time:

  • Who says “the public is seeking an end to legislative gridlock,” and what does that have to do with the current Dem-owned White House, Senate, and Congress? Barring long-shot filibusters, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can pass anything they want, any time they want to. Thus, what Raju alleges can’t be. What Democrats want is legislative cover for whatever disastrous bills they might pass. DeMint won’t cooperate. Too bad, so sad.
  • Yes, too many lawmakers only respond if it appears that there re-election chances will be hurt. Witness the immigration/amnesty drama in Summer 2007.
  • The Left has always capitalized on “club friendships” to wear down principled conservatives. It’s almost never gone the other way.

Back on point: There appears to be no journalistic reason why Politic held this mid-November story until now. Thus, there had to be some other motivation to sit on it. Excuse me for believing that it involves trying to divide the GOP just as it appears to be coalescing as a coherently principled group. Are there any credible alternative reasons?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Couldn’t Help But Comment (012909, Morning)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 9:26 am

Yeah, this is about the scariest chart ever, and I don’t know how you avoid serious inflation down the road when the government is printing money so furiously. Sadly, it looks like they’re just warming up.

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Election stuff and other matters have kept me from commenting on Uncle Sam’s spending binge and declining receipts. Well, here, using number from December 2008′s Monthly Treasury Statement, are the first three months of the current fiscal year compared to last year (all figures are in millions):

FY2009thru3months

There’s not much to say to this, except what I said a couple of weeks ago about the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy we are enduring: Tanks a lot.

Beyond that, for reasons yours truly documented all the way back in 2005, the real results are even worse than they appear. And I really hate being right about the fourth reason noted at that post — “…. we as a country, thanks to the poor example the GOP has set during the past four-plus years, are philosophically defenseless to argue that getting spending under control and at least reducing the REAL annual deficit to zero are good ideas.”

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Having said that, some progress was made getting back to basics yesterday. Kudos to Republican Leader Boehner and his party for unanimously rejecting the aptly named “Porkulus” package that is at best about 12% stimulus, and is better described as the big spenders’ 40-year wish list (“just about every pent-up Democratic proposal of the last 40 years”).

The other party owns the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy. So it’s only appropriate that they own what they are trying to push off as the solution to the mess they created. It isn’t anything resembling a solution. It’s so utterly lacking in items relevant to economy recovery that it leaves you wondering whether they really want a recovery at all.

If a GOP president had promised to eliminate pork/earmarks and had almost simultaneously proposed a bill such as this, he or she would be laughed out of the Beltway in minutes — and justifiably so. But that’s exactly what Barack Obama has done. Ten days in, there is little sign that a serious person is in charge.

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Reason’s Hit and Run blog needlessly apologized in a blog post that criticized former New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston’s “Fiscal Therapy” in Mother Jones. The ever so (not) fair and balanced Johnston was last seen at BizzyBlog in August 2008, when I observed that he has become a bit of a fave as a speaker at fever-swamp events.

Johnston has this suggestion relating to tightening up the tax system in his MJ piece:

Invade the Caymans
In 1983 just 10 percent of America’s corporate profits were funneled through places that charge little or no corporate income tax; today more than 25 percent of profits go through tax havens. The Obama administration could tell the Caymans—now fifth in the world in bank deposits—to repeal its bank secrecy laws or be invaded; since the island nation’s total armed forces consists of about 300 police officers, it shouldn’t be hard for technicians and auditors, accompanied by a few Marines, to fly in and seize all the records. Bermuda, which relies on the Royal Navy for its military, could be next, and so on. Long before we get to Switzerland and Luxembourg, their governments should have gotten the message.

Now I have a bone-dry sense of humor at times, but I’m not seeing a hint that Johnston doesn’t mean it in the just-excerpted paragraph. True, in the next paragraph he pulls back — a little:

Barring gunboat diplomacy (tempting as it is), there is no reason we cannot pass laws to block financial transactions with tax havens or even, Cuba-style, make it a crime for Americans to visit or do business with them without special permission. Congress could declare the hiding of funds a threat to national security and require that anyone with offshore assets disclose them to the IRS within 30 days and pay taxes, interest, and penalties within 180 days. For the holdouts, temporary special teams in the IRS and Justice Department could speedily pursue civil or criminal charges.

But what if the tax havens don’t let IRS auditors look at their records? It looks to me like David would want our government to give in to “temptation.”

What caused the Hit & Run apology was a missive from Johnston, who used lines of argument BizzyBlog readers are all too familiar with:

Wow, what reactions—many of them full of venom and personal attack, but without any substance on the issues in my article. BTW, for those who make wild guesses and get it wrong, I am a registered Republican and chairman of a corporation I founded with one of my sons. ….. And of course in my Mother Jones piece I am jesting about actually invading the Caymans, as Radley sort of notes, but I am joking not about the need to enforce the law and stop helping calculated cheats get away with their felonies.

The “registered Republican” line is a classic. C’mon David, who did you really vote for in the last six presidential elections?

Until Johnston fesses up on that, Reason’s apology is needless.

Inaugural Leftovers

Links for those who didn’t catch ‘em last week, and for posterity:

  • From Ken Shepherd at NewsBusters, “Veterans’ Ball Organizer Takes Money, Runs; Where’s the Outrage, Media Attention?” The story is that “The promoter who failed to hold a promised Veterans Inaugural Ball on Tuesday has left behind a trail of angry corporate sponsors and charities who contributed to the event, disappointed performers who were booked for entertainment, and 17 to 25 beauty queens who were told they would be ambassadors for their states at the ball and help raise up to $10 million for veterans’ causes.” Ken’s point is that “Had such a scam that victimized veterans gone down in January 2005, when President Bush was criticized by many in the media for spending $40 million on inaugural festivities, there’s little doubt this story would receive major play on the networks.” Ken is correct.
  • From Say Anything, “Soldiers Walk Out Of Inaugural Ball After Music Performer Holds Up “F**K GEORGE” Sign.”
  • From the Washington Post, “Are We Having A Ball Yet?: The Inaugural Party Bubble Bursts.” It notes that “some of the other high-profile parties …. (were) canceled or are still scrambling to cut costs and sell last-minute tickets, leaving ballgoers disappointed or out in the cold.”
  • From Bernard Chapin at Pajamas, “White Guilt, Media Bias Soiled the Inaugural.” Did it ever: “Once again, Obama was celebrated for the color of his skin as opposed to the character he may or may not possess.”
  • Anchoress had a great roundup of speech reactions. Best — “….. this is the realization that our nation has finally, officially embraced the post-modern world; that, in addition to media elitists and collegiate intellectuals spreading nihilism, we finally have a U.S. president who embodies such a culture.”
  • Update, 11:00 a.m.: Really didn’t mean to miss this from Edward Cline at Family Security Matters — “January 20th, 2009. Another ‘date which will live in infamy.’ Watching news media coverage of Barack Obama’s journey to the White House was much like watching the broadcast propaganda of a dystopian fantasy in films like V, or the Richard Burton’s 1984, or Fahrenheit 451 – except that the news media is not a vast government department spewing out lies and disinformation, haranguing and brow-beating the public, but a nominally independent entity reporting Obama’s triumph with deliriously mindless happy talk.”
January 28, 2009

Strickland’s State of the State: Unevaluated Excerpts

Full transcript is here.

Items I gleaned from the transcript are listed below, in order of appearance in the speech. Hopefully I’ll have more to say tomorrow.

Comments are welcome, or just use what follows as Cliff Notes (Update – Matt at WoMD has reax from the Buckeye Institute, John Kasich, and Kevin Coughlin; Lisa Renee at Glass City live-blogged it and has reax from State Rep Matt Szollosi):

We have finally gained federal approval to offer coverage to Ohio children from families with incomes up to 300 percent of the poverty line. With funding provided in this budget, we will soon be able to say that health care coverage is available to every child in Ohio.

…..

Ohioans with employer-provided insurance will be able to buy coverage for their dependents up to the age of 29.

…..

We will work toward the restoration of passenger rail service between Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland. Our goal is to link Ohio’s three largest cities by passenger rail for the first time in 40 years. This will be a first step toward a rail system that links neighborhoods within a city, and cities within our state.

…..

Over the last two years we reduced the tax burden on local communities as the state now provides the majority of funds needed for our local schools.

…..

Students will, of course, continue to learn the timeless core subjects like math and science that are critical to their success. But we will also add new topics including global awareness and life skills to the curriculum. And we will use teaching methods that foster creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration, media literacy, leadership and productivity, cultural awareness, adaptability and accountability.

…..

Under my plan, the Ohio Department of Education will set standards for Ohio schools requiring innovative teaching formats. Interdisciplinary methods, project-based learning, real world lessons, and service learning will be the norm.

…..

Over a ten-year period we will add 20 instructional days to the school calendar – bringing Ohio’s learning year up to the international average of 200 days.

We will end the outdated practice of giving our most impressionable students only a half-day of learning. Ohio will now require universal all-day kindergarten.

We will provide resources to expand the learning day for all students with activities such as community service, tutoring, and wellness programs.

…..

We will create community engagement teams in our schools. We will place nurses in our schools. We will have professionals in the schools who will help educators, families and community service providers come together to help our children succeed.

And for the first time the state will provide dedicated resources for instructional materials and enrichment activities.

…..

So, under my plan, in recognition of the enormous importance of excellent teachers, we will revolutionize teacher preparation and development in Ohio with a residency program. Just as future doctors begin their careers under the watchful eye of an experienced colleague, we will give our new teachers the benefit of thoughtful guidance from an accomplished senior teacher. After a four-year residency, successful candidates will earn their professional teaching license.

…..

Right now, it’s harder to dismiss a teacher than any other public employee. Under my plan, we will give administrators the power to dismiss teachers for good cause, the same standard applied to other public employees.

We will create a Teach Ohio program to open a path to licensure for professionals who have the subject knowledge but lack coursework in education methods. Teach Ohio participants will complete an intensive course in classroom methods and then be eligible to begin the four-year residency program.

…..

Scholarships will be made available for future teachers who agree to teach in hard to staff schools or in hard to staff subjects.

Our university teacher education programs will be redesigned to meet the needs and standards of our primary and secondary schools. The Chancellor of Higher Education will be empowered to reward university education programs that best prepare their students for success as teachers in Ohio.

…..

And you know, good ideas shouldn’t be something we stumble on accidentally. That’s why my plan creates a research and development function within the Department of Education. The department’s Center for Creativity and Innovation will monitor research and results from across the country and across the world to keep Ohio schools and Ohio educators informed of new advances.

…..

Ohio’s current graduation test does not measure creativity, problem solving, and other key skills. We will make our assessments both relevant and rigorous by replacing the Ohio Graduation Test with the ACT and three additional measures.

All students will take the ACT college entrance examination, not only to measure their high school achievement, but to help raise students’ aspirations for higher education. Students will also take statewide ‘end of course’ exams, complete a service learning project, and submit a senior project.

…..

School districts will undergo performance audits overseen by the Department of Education to make sure they are maintaining the academic and operating standards we’ve established.

…..

For those who may have misunderstood my position on charter schools, I want to be very clear. I support charter schools that meet the same high standards we demand of traditional public schools. Charter schools that hire quality teachers, show fiscal and academic accountability, are regulated by the Department of Education, and are not run by for-profit management services have a place in my plan.

…..

….. my plan lowers what our local taxpayers are expected to contribute to local schools from 23 mills to 20 mills. The state will assume responsibility for providing the difference between what those 20 mills raise and the cost of the full range of educational resources our students need according to our evidence-based approach.Additionally, districts will have the option of asking voters to pass a conversion levy. Now, a conversion levy simply maintains the existing millage on residential property for a district currently above 20 mills.

Districts that use a conversion levy, and all districts whose tax structure already allows growth on 20 mills, will see their tax revenues grow with increased property values, helping schools to keep up with inflation.

Last November alone we had more than 200 school districts asking voters to approve school levies. Under my plan, school districts that choose this option will not have to go to the ballot year after year just to stay even with inflation.

And, we will strengthen the historic partnership between the state and our local school districts. When I came into office, local school districts paid for the majority of school costs. In the upcoming two-year budget, even with grave economic challenges facing Ohio and the nation, my plan will take the state’s share of education funding to 55 percent. As our Ohio evidence-based plan is fully phased in, the state’s share will grow to an unprecedented 59 percent.

Excerpt: ‘The True Scope of the Housing Bust’ — Fan and Fred Did It

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:15 pm

An interview last week by Chip Hanlon of Safehaven (HT The Independent Institute’s Beacon Blog) of Fannie Mae’s first Chief Credit Officer, Edward Pinto, is probably the best explanation out there, so read the excerpts after the jump (if you’re on this blog’s home page), and go and save the whole thing:

(more…)

Dirty Little Secret of the Day, Via Rush

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:31 am

It’s about time somone shouted this out, because it explains a lot (link will go behind Rush’s subscription wall in a week; bold is mine):

….. look, these Wall Street people, I’m as infuriated as you are, but not for the same reasons. I am mad at them for not standing up when Congress ruined their businesses. I’m mad at ‘em for not standing up and saying, “No, we’re not taking your money.” They thought they had an unholy alliance, they thought they were in the same club with these elected officials. A lot of these guys that are going down the tubes on Wall Street are Democrats being taken down by Democrats. And the Democrats are showing, “We’ll take you down if it means votes for us. I don’t care how much money you’ve given us,” most of these execs on Wall Street we’re talking about are high level liberal Democrats. They’re going down the tubes and they’re having their images destroyed by people they thought were on their team.

Rush doesn’t seem to be aware of the “(figurative) gun to the head” element of the bailouts. But that really reinforces his point: Instead of fighting them tooth and nail, banks generally went along with CRA and lower-than-prudent lending standards and thought that their contributions to Democrats would buy them safety. It didn’t. The fact that so-called allleged Republican Henry Paulson is the one who pushed the panic button, with the unfortunate and legacy-scarring acquiescence of George W. Bush, is irrelevant to the root causes that led to him do what he did.

There’s a term for people like these money center CEOs: Useful idiots.

Well OK, If You’re Going to Go There …..

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:03 am

So LA’s mayor (see 3PM update at link) and the New York Times (HT Michelle Malkin) want to blame the Lupoe family murder-suicide on the economy — in spite of plentiful evidence that there’s much, much more to the story. The Times cites other job loss-related murder examples in its coverage in an effort to create the impression that this is part of a pattern.

Fine.

Let’s accept the in-reality unacceptable twisted premise for a moment.

If we do, the next logical stop for Times reporters Rebecca Cathcart and Randal C. Archibold would be to track down Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid and ask them how it feels, as architects of the POR Economy, to be responsible for these awful deaths.

Former Boss Rebukes NASA Global Warming Alarmist Hansen, Is AGW Skeptic

Filed under: Environment,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:28 am

GlobalWarming.jpgI’ll betcha this won’t get much notice in the Obamedia, so it needs some here.

Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe’s Environment and Public Works Committee Press Blog released a statement last night reporting that Dr. John S. Theon, the former supervisor of over-the-top global warming alarmist James Hansen, has publicly rebuked his former employee’s conduct, refuted Hansen’s comedic claim that he was being muzzled, and has joined the ranks of AGW (anthropogenic global warming) skeptics.

Hansen’s histrionics were last noted on January 18 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) when the UK Guardian carried his dire warning that the about-to-be-inaugurated Barack Obama “Has Four Years to Save Earth” from the impact of global warming.

Here are key excerpts from the press release posted by Marc Morano (HT Watts Up With That via Tigerhawk; bolds are mine):

NASA warming scientist James Hansen, one of former Vice-President Al Gore’s closest allies in the promotion of man-made global warming fears, is being publicly rebuked by his former supervisor at NASA.

Retired senior NASA atmospheric scientist, Dr. John S. Theon, the former supervisor of James Hansen, NASA’s vocal man-made global warming fear soothsayer, has now publicly declared himself a skeptic and declared that Hansen “embarrassed NASA” with his alarming climate claims and said Hansen was “was never muzzled.”  Theon joins the rapidly growing ranks of international scientists abandoning the promotion of man-made global warming fears.

“I appreciate the opportunity to add my name to those who disagree that global warming is man made,” Theon wrote to the Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009.

….. “Hansen was never muzzled even though he violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind’s effect on it). Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress,” Theon wrote.

….. Theon declared “climate models are useless.” “My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit,” Theon explained. “Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results.

We will likely wait quite a while for Obamedia outlets like the Associated Press or the New York Times to take note of John Theon’s thrashing of Hansen. If this anticipated aversion doesn’t strike you as particularly unfair, ask yourself how much notice Theon would have received if he had instead announced his complete agreement with his former employee.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Things I’d Like To Post About Today ….. (012809, Morning)

Filed under: TILTpatBIDHAT — Tom @ 8:56 am

….. But I Don’t Have Any Time For:

  • Deceptive Lying Reuters Headline from Last Friday — “FDA allows first test of human stem cell therapy.” Fox, of course, got it right — “First Embryonic Stem Cell Trial Gets FDA Approval.” This Google News Archive search from 1/21/2001 thorugh 1/20/2009 shows plenty of evidence that “human stem cell” tests have been approved in the past (otherwise, the tests described at the myriad links wouldn’t be taking place) — just not embryonics.
  • Here’s a brave statement:

    WellsFargoNoTARP0109

    Yeah right — until new Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner “puts a (figurative) gun to their heads” like his predecessor Hank Paulson did.

  • Sunday, Anchoress put out a fabulous round-up of pre- and post-January 20 inconsistencies on the part of Democrats and the press (I know, that’s redundant). It only took five days for her to hit double digits; this post from yours truly is among the examples. Amazing.
  • On a related note, the Punk Clock is back to five days, based on Obama’s “I won” statement (HT Instapundit) on Friday. Not “we won,” or “my party won,” or “my team won.” Nope, it’s all about him, and he’s in your face with it. That’s pure punk. It’s Nixon’s “I am the President” with an arrogant exclamation point. The revised expiration date on the term “Punk President” has now been moved to March 24.
  • Marc Thiessen on Geithner — “The problem is that now, when the next nominee comes up with these kinds of issues, there will be a ‘Geithner precedent.’  And if it’s a woman or a minority, they will argue that you gave the white guy from Wall Street a pass.  And that will weaken their hand in opposing someone who might not only have failed to pay their taxes, or employed an illegal nanny, but also have dangerous policy ideas.” This is why the excuse proffered by some who voted “yes,” including George Voinovich, that “the alternative would have been worse” (see Update 5 at this link for my full response), is so completely hollow.