September 14, 2010

Comments: Please Continue to Use the Pop-up Form

Filed under: General — Tom @ 10:57 pm

The “Leave a comment” form after each post doesn’t work right now. The pop-up comment form still works, so if you would like to leave a comment, please use that method. To do so, click on the “Comments (moderated)” link at the bottom right of any post where you wish to put up a comment, and the pop-up will, uh, pop up. Thanks to a newbie error by yours truly, it may appear that your pop-up comment won’t post after you hit “Say it!” — but it will.

I apologize for the inconvenience. The problem is still under investigation.

Yeah, Baby!

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:56 pm

A sweet Tea Party triumph:

ODonnellWinsDelUSSenatePrimary091410

Earth to USA Today: It is NOT up to Ms. O’Donnell to mend fences, as the small-print caption claims. The GOP party establishment has to mend fences with her. That’s how it is when you lose, and the other person wins.

Good ol’ boys Mike Castle, Tom Ross, and others have been beaten fair and square, and should — no, must — grow up and acknowledge it. If they don’t, if they pull a Charlie Crist, if they pull a (rumored still, I think) Lisa Murkowski, we’ll know that their power is more important than any principle.

Given the seriousness of this country’s situation, voters in the state that gave us William Roth of the Kemp-Roth tax cuts during the Reagan years can certainly be persuaded that Obamanomics must be stopped. On to November — with or without the establishment.

________________________________________________

UPDATE: O’Donnell’s victory margin was 6.2%. That’s no squeaker. Pay attention to how many news outlets report that victory margin. My bet? Very few.

UPDATE 2, Sept. 15: At the WSJ — “Long-shot U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell of Delaware rode tea-party momentum Tuesday to the most unexpected upset of a tumultuous political year, soundly defeating Republican Party fixture Mike Castle in a bruising primary.” I didn’t think an O’Donnell victory was that unexpected, as Mike Castle was about as close to Lincoln Chafee as one can get without actually being Lincoln Chafee. But the “soundly defeating” part is sweet, sweet music.

Establishment RINOs, establishment media types, and leftists: Underestimate and ridicule at your peril.

AP, Crutsinger Publish Three Clear Falsehoods in Report on August Deficit

APabsolutelyPathetic0109I tried to find a nicer way to put it in the headline. But I can’t.

At the Associated Press, Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger’s apparent plug-and-play report less than an hour after the issuance of Uncle Sam’s August Monthly Treasury Statement on Monday (his item is time-stamped at 2:56 p.m., which follows the Treasury Department’s 2:00 p.m. release by less than an hour) contains three obviously false statements that a news organization which really subscribes to its own “Statement of News Values and Principles” would retract and/or correct.

The specific AP standard in question is whether it has violated its promise not to “knowingly introduce false information into material intended for publication or broadcast.” The only conceivable excuse at this point is that Crutsinger and his employer don’t realize what they have done. The three falsehoods involved are not arcane or open to interpretation. Rather, they are significant, obvious, irrefutable, and in need of correction.

What follows are the three statements, the first of which contradicts itself in the report’s own subsequent sentence:

1. “Deficits of $1 trillion in a single year had never happened until two years ago. The $1.4 trillion deficit in 2009 was more than three times the size of the previous record-holder, a $454.8 billion deficit recorded in 2008.”

The fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2008 was “two years ago.” The reported deficit that year was $454.8 billion, as reported. $454.8 billion is less than $1 trillion. There was not a $1 trillion deficit “two years ago.”

2009 was one year ago. That’s the year the deficit topped $1 trillion for the first time.

There is no way to twist the meaning of the bolded statement above to make it true, because it’s false. Is this breathtaking carelessness, or an indicator that AP is bent on assigning any and all economic blame to the previous administration?

2. “Through August, government revenues totaled $1.92 trillion, 1.6 percent higher than a year ago, reflecting small increases in government tax collections compared to 2009.

Tax collections have not increased, as shown in the following graphics:

MTSreceipts0810

MTS0810TaxAndFedRecs.jpg

The first graphic comes from Page 2 of the Monthly Treasury Statement, and identifies the major sources of federal receipts. The second contains the August 2010 detail of the August 2009 Monthly Treasury Statement (there is a $235 million difference between the two reported “Miscellaneous Receipts” amounts that is not relevant to this post). The third boils things down, and proves that tax collections have declined.

Even if one dubiously considers every line except “Deposits of Earning by Federal Reserve” to be “taxes,” those Federal Reserve Deposits are not. Don’t take my word for it. Here is how the Congressional Budget Office described these deposits in its Monthly Budget Review last week:

MTS0810CBOFedRecsDesc

In case the AP and Martin Crutsinger need to be reminded: “Profits” are not “taxes.”

Thus, as seen in the final graphic above, deposits from the Fed must be excluded when comparing year-over-year tax collections. When one does that, the result is that tax collections are down from a year ago by over $9.5 billion, or about 0.5%.

Crutsinger’s statement that the overall increase in federal receipts “reflect(s) small increases in government tax collections compared to 2009″ is false.

3. “Spending has totaled $3.18 trillion, down 2.5 percent from the same period a year ago.”

Yes, reported “outlays” — a contrived term the government uses as a proxy for “spending” (but is not the same thing) — are down. But Crutsinger wrote that “spending” is down. The definition of “spending,” taken from the word “spend,” involves “pay(ing) out, disburs(ing), or expend(ing) funds.”

As described back in April (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) after it occurred in March, Uncle Sam’s reported “outlays” were reduced by means of a $115 billion non-cash entry to reflect the government’s revised estimate that it will ultimately lose less on its Troubled Asset Relief Program “investments” than originally thought. This entry did not involve “spending,” nor did the extra identical amount incorrectly added to “outlays” last year. As I wrote in April:

In essence what happened is that the administration pushed as much “bad news” (asset writedowns) as it could into last year’s (i.e., fiscal 2009′s) financial reporting, since last year was going to be a disaster no matter what. But since they overdid it with the writedowns last year (”Gosh, how did that happen?”), they can make this year (fiscal 2010) look better than it really has been. Good old Martin played along by calling it “dramatic.”

As noted, Crutsinger and AP should know about this $115 billion item. After all, the AP reporter discussed it in his April report on the March Monthly Treasury Statement.

After appropriately adjusting for the non-cash item, “spending” (the word Crutsinger chose to use) has not totaled $3.18 trillion; it has really been $3.29 trillion. Last year’s “spending” wasn’t the $3.26 trillion shown in Table 3 of August 2010′s Monthly Treasury Statement; it was $3.15 trillion. “Spending” is not “down 2.5 percent from the same period a year ago,” as the AP reporter claimed. “Spending” is up by $.14 trillion ($3.29 tril minus $3.15 tril). That’s a 4.4% increase ($.14 tril divided by $3.15 tril). Since “spending” means what the dictionary says it means, Crutsinger’s statement about federal “spending” is false.

As seen in the graphic at this link, which shows Monthly Treasury Statement data comparing 2010 and 2009 spending in all major functional areas, spending is up in the large majority of them.

The following is supposed to represent what the Associated Press does when it commits errors of fact in its reporting:

CORRECTIONS/CORRECTIVES:

Staffers must notify supervisory editors as soon as possible of errors or potential errors, whether in their work or that of a colleague. Every effort should be made to contact the staffer and his or her supervisor before a correction is moved.

When we’re wrong, we must say so as soon as possible. When we make a correction in the current cycle, we point out the error and its fix in the editor’s note. A correction must always be labeled a correction in the editor’s note. We do not use euphemisms such as “recasts,” “fixes,” “clarifies” or “changes” when correcting a factual error.

A corrective corrects a mistake from a previous cycle. The AP asks papers or broadcasters that used the erroneous information to use the corrective, too.

For corrections on live, online stories, we overwrite the previous version. We send separate corrective stories online as warranted.

The three demonstrably false statements described here have misled and will continue to mislead readers and other news consumers into erroneously believing that trillion-dollar deficits go back to 2008; that fiscal year-to-date tax collections are greater than last year; and that federal “spending” in 2010 is down from 2009.

AP has “introduced false information into material intended for publication or broadcast” — something it says it won’t “knowingly” do.

Your move, guys and gals. You know what you should do. Will you do it?

If you choose to do nothing, could you guys at least spare us the sanctimony and remove your “Statement of News Values and Principles” web page?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

WSJ on ‘The 1099 Insurrection’

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:57 am

In a WSJ editorial this morning, we learn that the White House opposes repealing the onerous 1099 rules in ObamaCare, and notes that the revenue-raising arguments of its supporters aren’t even supported by the IRS:

You might not have seen it reported, but the Senate will vote this morning on whether to repeal part of ObamaCare that it passed only months ago. The White House is opposed, but this fight is likely to be the first of many as Americans discover—as Nancy Pelosi once famously predicted—what’s in the bill

… But this “tax gap” of unreported business income is largely a Beltway myth, and no less than the Treasury Department’s National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson says the costs will be “disproportionate as compared with any resulting improvements in tax compliance.”

Meanwhile, small businesses are staring in horror toward 2013, when the 1099 mandate will hit more than 30 million of them. Currently businesses only have to tell the IRS the value of services they purchase from vendors and the like. Under the new rules, they’ll have to report the value of goods and merchandise they purchase as well, adding vast accounting and paperwork costs.

Think about a midsized trucking company. The back office would have to collect hundreds of thousands of receipts from every gas station where its drivers filled up and figure out where it spent more than $600 that year. Then it would also need to match those payments to the stations’ corporate parents.

Most Democrats now claim they were blindsided and didn’t understand the implications of the 1099 provision—which is typical of the slapdash, destructive way the bill was written and passed. As the critics claimed, most Members had no idea what they were voting on.

Do the math: If each of the 30 million small businesses cited issues only 35 extra 1099 forms over and above the very few they are already generating, that’s over a billion new multi-part forms (or, in some cases, transmissions — ADP and other service providers are probably the only people lovin’ this), accompanied by a billion transmissions to Uncle Sam done by paper or electronically. That’s before we get the mountain of paper and transmissions larger companies will generate, or the new generators dragged into the system for absolutely no reason (e.g., small self-employed businesses that don’t generate income, hobbies that break even or lose money, etc.).

If you get the impression that yours truly believes that “most Members had no idea what they were voting on” is a Hall of Shame outrage, you have the correct impression. But as bad as it is that most didn’t read it, it’s even worse for the few than might have known that the 1099 crap was in there and STILL voted for it. Either way, this is yet more proof, as if any more were needed, that anyone who voted for ObamaCare deserves to be voted out of office. There are no excuses.

Positivity: Remembering 9/11′s Heroes — Tom Burnett

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

TomBurnettNote: Cassy Fiano at David Horowitz’s NewReal Blog “I wanted to spotlight just a few of the incredible heroes of that fateful day.” This is the third (go there for the full story) of five such tributes.

* * * * *

Tom Burnett

Tom Burnett was the COO and vice president of Thoratec Corporation, a medical devices company. He had a wife, Deena, and three daughters. On September 11, he was on United Airlines Flight 93. After the plane was hijacked, he called his wife and found out about the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Mr. Burnett phoned his wife Deena four times. In the first call he told her about the situation on the plane and asked her to call authorities. The second time he phoned, he told her that he believed their captors were going to fly the plane into the ground. “The next time he called,” Mrs. Burnett said, “I could tell they were formulating a plan.” In the last call, he reportedly said, “I know we’re going to die. There’s three of us who are going to do something about it.”

Rather than just accept his fate, Burnett decided to act. He, and a small group of other passengers, decided to fight back against the hijackers. While the plan had been to regain control of the plane, they all ultimately perished when the plane crashed in that rural Pennsylvania field. Burnett knew that this was likely to be his fate, and chose to fight back anyways. …