June 30, 2011

‘We The People’ Update

Filed under: News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:13 pm

WeThePeopleLogoherman-cain_052111Received just a short time ago via email from We The People Director Tom Zawistowski:

we just found out that Herman Cain is going to be with us all afternoon on Saturday to just meet the attendees and perhaps participate in some of the breakout sessions. So this is a chance to have personal access to him.

Out … standing.

Comment of the Day: ‘Obama Wants Class Warfare? Well, He Got It’

At this Wall Street Journal item (HT Zero Hedge) — Since there doesn’t seem to be a way to directly link to the comment (it’s currently at Page 32 of the comments sorted by oldest first), I thought that it was important enough to merit a graphic grab:

WSJcommentOnClassWarfare062911

It was bad enough how this elitism grew during the Republican Congress after the 1994 Gingrich Revolution was supposed to change things following years of what was up to that point unprecedented elitism and corruption (remember the House Bank and Dan Rostenkowski, to name just a couple?). We can argue about whether it got as bad from 1995-2006 as pre-1994 (I would argue that it didn’t, but they were working hard to get there; since the government was bigger, maybe it did anyway, and we just didn’t see it all). But it really doesn’t matter, because it shouldn’t have come back at all.

Now, under Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and until last year Nancy Pelosi, the corruption and elitism are at least as bad as they were in the early 1990s. Probably much worse, because corrupt elitism rules the roost in the Executive Branch, and with a new twist, brought forth above by Wayne: If they have to screw the citizenry to maintain their cushy lifestyles, exemptions, waivers, and perks, they will. Bleep the little people.

Wayne’s comment is as good an explanation as there is as to why the Tea Party movement caught fire in early 2009 (once it became obvious that Hope and Change was the Same-old Same-old, but on steroids), and why it’s still sweeping across mainstream America. Anyone who still asserts that it’s a Republican movement which can be co-opted by the same people who helped us get to this point is either sadly mistaken, an elitist apologist, or both.

Still Stuck on Stagnant: Initial Unemployment Claims — SA 428k, NSA 403K (Down only 9% from 2010)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:59 am

Well, for the first time since I began tracking it in detail about 18 weeks ago, initial claims reported the previous week weren’t revised upward.

This week, seasonally adjusted initial claims stayed almost exactly where they were a week ago:

In the week ending June 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 428,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s unrevised figure of 429,000. The 4-week moving average was 426,750, an increase of 500 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 426,250.

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 403,284 in the week ending June 25, an increase of 8,998 from the previous week. There were 444,712 initial claims in the comparable week in 2010.

Zero Hedge says expectations were for a result of 420,000, and predicts that hapless forecasters will be cutting their estimates of June job growth, which the government will officially report on July 8, as a result.

425,000 or so is not where we want to be, but it’s where we seem stuck.

An Ohio note: As seen in the DOL’s press release, the state reported that in the previous week (i.e., the week ended June 18), initial claims dropped by 2,769. That will probably go the other way in the next few weeks with scheduled auto industry plant shutdowns.

WSJ: The ‘Revenue’ Problem Is a Slow-Growth Problem Caused by Obama Administration Policies (Also: Pethokoukis and Boehner)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:36 am

What follows should be so drop-dead obvious by now that it requires no elaboration, but the Journal soldiers through it in its lead editorial this morning (bolds, italics, and numbered tags are mine):

Obama’s Real Revenue Problem
Tax receipts are low because of the mediocre economic recovery.

… Six months after he agreed to a bipartisan extension of current tax rates, he (Obama) is now insisting on tax increases as part of the debt-ceiling talks. At his press conference yesterday he repeated this demand, as well as his recent talking point that taxes are lower than they’ve been in generations. Let’s examine that claim because it explains Washington’s real revenue problem—slow economic growth.

as recently as 2007 the current tax structure raised 18.5% of GDP in revenue, which is slightly above the modern historical average. Even in 2008, when the economy grew not at all, federal tax receipts still came in at 17.5% of the economy.

Today’s revenue problem is the result of the mediocre economic recovery.

But what about the liberal claim, repeated constantly, that the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 caused today’s deficits? CBO has shown this to be demonstrably false. On May 12, the budget arm of Congress examined the changes in its baseline projections from 2001 through 2011. In 2001, it had predicted a surplus in 2011 of $889 billion. Instead, it expects a deficit of $1.4 trillion.

What explains that $2.29 trillion budget reversal? Well, the direct revenue loss from the combination of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts contributed roughly $216 billion, or only about 9.5% of the $2.29 trillion. And keep in mind that even this low figure is based on a static revenue model that assumes almost no gains from faster economic growth. [1]

After the Bush investment tax cuts of 2003, tax revenues were $786 billion higher in 2007 ($2.568 trillion) than they were in 2003 ($1.782 trillion), the biggest four-year increase in U.S. history. [2] So as flawed as it is, the current tax code with a top personal income tax rate of 35% is clearly capable of generating big revenue gains.

… The payroll tax cut was sold in the name of stimulating growth and hiring, yet the economy has grown more slowly this year than in last year’s fourth quarter. As we’ve long argued, the “temporary, targeted and timely” tax cuts favored by Keynesians and the White House don’t do much for growth because they don’t permanently change incentives to save and invest. [3] Mr. Obama was hawking more of those yesterday, even as he wants to raise taxes overall.

The lesson is that when it comes to growth, not all tax cuts are created equal. The tax cuts with the biggest bang for the buck are permanent, take effect immediately, and hit at the next dollar of marginal income.

… Even orthodox Keynesian policy doesn’t recommend a tax increase with growth under 2% and the jobless rate at 9.1%.

… As for revenues, they will increase when the economy shakes its lethargy caused by Mr. Obama’s policies. A tax increase won’t help growth—or revenues.

Notes:

  • [1] — That, in the real world, the initial “cost” of the Bush tax cuts was closer to zero. Without them, the economy would have turned around much more slowly, if at all, with obvious negative effects on collections.
  • [2] — Here’s the graphic evidence for the “must have charts” crowd:
  • FederalReceipts2003thru2007

  • [3] — We shouldn’t have done this, but since we did, consider it another failed Keynesian exercise.

Over at Reuters this morning, James Pethokoukis piled on:

Obamanomics, leaving on a jet plane

… the clumsy attempt at class warfare (using the bully pulpit to demagogue accelerated depreciation on corporate jets) probably wasn’t even Obama’s most disheartening moment during the presser. Several others were at least equally as bad:

1) The president unnecessarily raised the specter of default if the debt ceiling is not raised by early August …

2) The president perpetuated this myth: “You can’t reduce the deficit to the levels that it needs to be reduced without having some revenue in the mix. “ … If we need more money, grow the economy faster.

3) Maybe the biggest economic issue of the year, other than the anemic recovery, is the National Labor Relations Board attack on Boeing and its decision to open an aircraft assembly line in right-to-work South Carolina. This de facto attempt to impose wage controls on one of America’s largest exporters by limiting where it can do business is a dagger aimed at the heart of the American free enterprise system. But here, sadly, is the president again leading from behind … (“That’s going to be up to a judge to decide.”)

C’mon, James. You know and I know that Obama agrees with the NLRB, but lacks the integrity and courage to say so.

John Boehner’s response yesterday was on-target:

The President is sorely mistaken if he believes a bill to raise the debt ceiling and raise taxes would pass the House. The votes simply aren’t there – and they aren’t going to be there, because the American people know tax hikes destroy jobs. They also know Washington has been on a spending binge for many years, and they will only tolerate a debt limit increase if we stop it.

The new majority in the House is going to stand with the American people.

In a separate fundraising e-mail, Boehner, responding to Obama’s implication that the Speaker is “playing games,” fired back:

I’m not playing

… I’m not looking to score political points. I’m fighting for the millions of American families and small businesses who know that tax hikes destroy jobs.

Obama is the one playing a game. Its sole object is keeping his sorry authoritarian butt in the Oval Office another four years, the country’s well-being be damned. For Boehner, it’s about saving the country’s economy. Given what has to be acknowledged as his spring stumble, he needs to prove that he’s up to the task. Time is short, John.

Positivity: Pope Launched Vatican News Portal on Tuesday

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From the Vatican, in a report written the day before it opened (the portal is now up and running):

Jun 27, 2011 / 04:02 pm

On June 28, Pope Benedict XVI will launch the Vatican’s first multimedia news portal, which is also designed for mobile devices.

“We are trying to give everybody an opportunity to have Vatican news immediately in a modern and accessible way, using new technology,” said Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in an interview with CNA on June 27.

He explained that the Pope will have the privilege of giving the “first click” to take the site online, a reflection of the way Pope Pius XI inaugurated the transmission of Vatican Radio 80 years ago.

Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See’s Press Office, explained to CNA that the Pope’s first click will be “a simple but powerful and symbolic action,” to demonstrate that the new initiative is a response to “a desire of the Pope for the new communication of the Church.”

One of the most notable new features of www.news.va will be its integration with social networks, and a design geared toward mobile devices such as the iPad. “This is a new approach for us,” Archbishop Celli noted.

The new information source will highlight the Pope’s travels, acts and teachings. It will also contain statements released by various departments of the Vatican, news developments from local churches worldwide and information about other important global developments.

“It is synergy, bringing together the contribution of different media,” commented Fr. Lombardi.

Go here for the rest of the story.