July 25, 2011

Obama’s Within-Hours Tax-Increase Contradiction: USAT Ignores, AP’s Espo Pretends

In his White House speech tonight, President Obama renewed his call for a debt-ceiling impasse solution which requires “the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their breaks in the tax code and special deductions.” In other words, he wants tax increases, even though earlier in the day, he backed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s “plan” (using the term loosely, as explained here and here) which, according to two separate reports (USAT; ABC), includes no tax increases.

In other words, the President, from all appearances, changed his mind — again. Calling the President’s performance in the debt-ceiling matter during the past several weeks “Jello-like” would appear to be an insult to the referenced food product.

Two items I’ve seen on President Obama’s speech tonight — David Jackson’s “live blog” item at USA Today and David Espo’s coverage at the Associated Press — did not recognize this seemingly clear point.

Jackson just ignored the Reid no-tax-increase plan’s existence, even though he had written about it just three hours earlier.

Meanwhile, Espo alleged that Obama’s support for the Reid plan earlier today somehow still stands:

… while the president didn’t say so, his embrace of legislation unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid effectively jettisoned his longstanding call for increased government revenues as part of any deficit reduction plan.

Obama’s openness to a law with no increases must have been emanating in penumbras only Espo could detect.

Speaker of the House John Boehner clearly didn’t catch the totally weird nuance Espo invented, telling the nation in his speech following the President’s that:

The president has often said we need a ‘balanced’ approach — which in Washington means: we spend more … you pay more. Having run a small business, I know those tax increases will destroy jobs.

Here’s more from Espo’s report (bolds are mine):

In unprecedented back-to-back appearances on nationwide television, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner clashed Monday night over the cause and cure for the nation’s debt crisis. The two men spoke as Congress remained gridlocked on legislation to avert a threatened default after Aug. 2.

Decrying a “partisan three-ring circus” in the nation’s capital, Obama assailed a newly minted Republican plan to raise the nation’s debt limit as an invitation to another crisis in six months’ time. He said congressional leaders must produce a compromise that can reach his desk before the deadline.

“The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government,” the president said in a hastily arranged prime-time speech. He appealed to the public to contact lawmakers and demand “a balanced approach” to reducing federal deficits – including tax increases for the wealthy as well as spending cuts.

… Responding moments later from a room near the House chamber, Boehner said the “crisis atmosphere” was of the president’s making.

… The back-to-back speeches did little to suggest that a compromise was in the offing, and the next steps appeared to be votes in the House and Senate on the rival plans by mid-week.

Despite warnings to the contrary, U.S. financial markets have appeared to take the political maneuvering in stride – so far. Wall Street posted losses Monday but with no indication of panic among investors.

Yeah, the media/White House “the markets will tank if there isn’t an agreement this weekend” scare tactic of the past two days didn’t work out too well, did it?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Jim Jordan Says, In Effect: ‘Hell No You Don’t!’

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:26 pm

Those are my words mimicking John Boehner’s last fall, but that’s in effect what Ohio’s Fourth District congressman has just said in reax to the Speaker’s two-step:

“While I thank the Speaker for fighting for Republican principles, I cannot support the plan that was presented to House Republicans this afternoon.”

“The credit rating agencies have been clear that no matter what happens with the debt limit, the U.S. will lose its AAA credit rating unless we produce a credible plan to reduce the debt by trillions of dollars. Cut, Cap, and Balance is the only plan on the table that meets this standard. Only a Balanced Budget Amendment will actually solve our debt problems.”

“Washington wants a deal. Americans want a solution. The Senate should resume debate on the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, amend it if necessary, and pass it, so we can provide the American people a real solution.”

Well, I guess you could say, “It’s on.”

Boehner’s Latest: ‘Two-Step Approach to Cut Spending, Avoid Default ‘

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:59 pm

Received two hours ago while otherwise occupied (direct link):

Speaker Boehner, GOP Leaders Outline Two-Step Approach to Cut Spending, Avoid Default

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement on the two-step approach for cutting spending and preserving the full faith and credit of the United States that GOP leaders discussed with their Republican colleagues today:

“Republicans have put forward a responsible, common-sense proposal that meets our obligations to the American people and preserves the full faith and credit of the United States. This plan is far from perfect, but it adheres to our principles of ensuring that spending cuts are greater than any debt hike and it includes no tax increases. Importantly, it reflects the principles of ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance.’

“Time is running short and it would be irresponsible for the President to veto this common-sense plan and run the risk of default. I would encourage the Senate to pass this plan and the President to sign it.”

NOTE: This two-step approach outlined by GOP leaders today will (1) make spending cuts that are larger than any debt ceiling increase; (2) implement spending caps to restrain future spending; and (3) advance the cause of the Balanced Budget Amendment – without tax hikes on families and job creators. Here is more information on the plan:

  • Cuts That Exceed The Debt Hike. The framework would cut and cap discretionary spending immediately, saving $1.2 trillion over 10 years (subject to CBO confirmation), and raise the debt ceiling by less – up to $1 trillion.
  • Caps To Control Future Spending. The framework imposes caps on discretionary spending that would establish clear limits on future spending and serve as a barrier against government expansion while the economy grows. Failure to remain below these caps will trigger automatic across-the-board cuts (otherwise known as sequestration).
  • Balanced Budget Amendment. The framework advances the cause of the Balanced Budget Amendment by requiring the House and Senate to vote on the measure after October 1, 2011 but before the end of the year, allowing the American people time to build sufficient support for this popular reform.
  • Entitlement Reforms & Savings. The framework creates a Joint Committee of Congress that is required to report legislation that would produce a proposal to reduce the deficit by at least $1.8 trillion over 10 years. Each Chamber would consider the proposal of the Joint Committee on an up-or-down basis without any amendments. If the proposal is enacted, then the President would be authorized to request a debt limit increase of $1.6 trillion.
  • No Tax Hikes. The framework includes no tax hikes, a key principle that Republicans have been fighting for since day one.
  • __________________________________________

    UPDATE: Americans For Tax Reform supports the plan (direct ATR link). ATR’s money quote: “The only reason that tax increases are off the table at this critical juncture in the debt limit debate is because Congressional Republicans have held firm on their pledge to their constituents not to raise taxes.”

    Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney Has the Coveted George Voinovich Endorsement

    Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:13 pm

    George Voinovich, reacting to the results of a straw poll at the annual dinner of ORPINO (The Ohio Republican Party in Name Only), in which Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney garnered 25%, or about 150, of the votes in a straw poll of the event’s 600 attendees:

    “The poll was reflective of the feelings that exist in the state of Ohio today,” former U.S. Sen. George Voinovich told The Dispatch. “I think Romney’s paid his dues, he’s been around the horn, and he’s got all that you need to be a great president at a time when the country needs an experienced leader.”

    Gag me.

    Actually, that’s beyond an endorsement. It’s a man-hug.

    Retirement apparently hasn’t done much for George Voinovich’s perspective. He is as at least as out of touch as he was during his last 15-plus years in “public service.” It was in the mid-1990s when Voinovich stopped governing the Buckeye State as a sort-of conservative and went all-RINO, almost all the time, contributing mightily to the go-along, get-along spendaholic atmosphere which pervaded GOP state politics until 2005 (when a somewhat acceptable tax package was enacted, which did the state some good but was too late to do anything about the party’s perceiption) and which allowed a completely unqualified buffoon in Democrat Ted Strickland to shrink the state’s economy by over 3% in four agonizing years.

    I feel confident that the sensible conservative majority in the State of Ohio would agree with yours truly: Not This Mitt Again.

    Science-Challenged AP: Northeast ‘Temps Near (and Above!) Boiling Point’

    Filed under: Environment,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Scams — Tom @ 2:45 pm

    APlogoUpsideDown1.jpgYou can’t make this up.

    You might excuse the Associated Press for engaging in a bit of hyperbole in a Friday item headlined “Northeast braces for temps near boiling point.” After all, it has been miserably hot in many parts of the country, including here in Greater Cincinnati.

    But, as readers will see after the jump, the unbylined AP item’s writer clearly doesn’t understand the point at which water boils. Brace yourself (light-blue “highlighting” is mine; HT to a NewsBusters tipster):

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    Quick Hits (072511, Early Afternoon)

    Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 2:03 pm

    Two simple graphs on how broke we are at Slate (HT Instapundit).

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    On Thursday, Christopher Rugaber, one of my personal faves at the Associated Press (/sarc), actually recognizes what yours truly emphasized in the latter portions of myFear-Based Economy” column: “Economy’s spring slump could last through summer … as job market, manufacturing remain weak.” Maybe Rugaber was cribbing from the column.

    Anyway, if you think it’s a “slump” now, wait until you see what happens if President Obama and Democrats get their way and increase taxes by trillions. But they keep pushing for that, which tells me that they don’t really care what happens to the economy, or how much the unemployed and their families continue to suffer.

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    I’m with Ann Althouse on one aspect of the David Wu situation: If she was over 18 at the time of the alleged sexual assault and did not report it to the police, I don’t see why the press is keeping her name out of the story.

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    Apparently the UAW is salivating at the idea of unionizing a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

    Workers there need to be reminded what happened to the last UAW plant VW had in the U.S. Full disclosure: The first new car I purchased was a Rabbit made at that plant. It was a very good car, but apparently the company couldn’t afford to make them profitably.

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    Rebound? What Rebound?” –the I’ve-lost-count update: In the car business, “We Are Sorry To Inform You That The Big Turnaround Has Been Postponed For Another Year.”

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    Speaking of the car business and the UAW: It’s contract-negotiating time with what used to be the Big Three, but which is now Ford, Government Motors, and the $1.3 billion taxpayer loss known as Chrysler, now 53.5% owned by Fiat (Of course, we must never forget that additional billions were illegally extracted from Chrysler’s non-TARP secured lenders).

    So Ford gets to negotiate with an entity which owns about 10% of one of its competitors and 40% of another, both of which have agreed to no-strike contract clauses that won’t expire for several years. Don’t think for a minute that Team Obama, which orchestrated what has been proven to be a bogus yet damaging safety scare campaign against Toyota last year, isn’t continuously doing a cost-benefit calculation on forcing a strike at Ford.

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    Relating to the previous item and feeding the need for the aforementioned cost-benefit calculation, the fact that the government may have to hurt Ford to prop up GM is evidenced by:

    • The presence of 605,000 vehicles in GM dealer inventories as of the end of June, a supply of well over 90 days (122 days in trucks), and a stunning 38% higher than a year ago. Six-month supplies of certain trucks at certain dealers are apparently not unusual.
    • The fact that the company has brought back financing arrangements of no payments for 90 days.
    • (Informally learned) The fact that the company is more willing to bend the credit rules to approve buyers with shaky — even very shaky — credit.

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    At the Wall Street Journal this morning, with perhaps the dumbest argument about a commerce-releated initiative I’ve ever seen (in bold):

    McKinsey & Co. made itself the White House’s public enemy number—well, we’ve lost count—after releasing a survey last month showing that nearly one in three businesses may drop insurance coverage as a result of the new health-care law. The real offense of the management consultants seems to be accurately portraying reality.

    Consider a suggestive new survey to be released today by the National Federation of Independent Business, the trade group for small businesses. William Dennis, a senior research fellow who has conducted the study for 35 years, reports that 57% of a cross-section of companies that employ 50 or fewer workers and offer coverage may stop doing so. Look out below.

    ObamaCare’s partisans claim none of this will happen because of the social norm theories of behavioral economics. Businesses offer insurance to attract workers, the thinking goes, and it’s the right thing to do. But that assumes utter irrationality—that workers won’t take a cheaper deal when they see it and businesses won’t try to compete against their rivals.

    The argument is so dumb that you have to know it’s a smokescreen. Obamacare adherents consider the disappearance of employer-provided health insurance a feature, not a bug — as long as the government effectively takes it all over through its harsh, strangulating regulation of the exchanges.

    Boehner’s $800 Billion: NOT a Tax Increase

    Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:00 am

    From a Washington Times columnist, whose primary fire is focused on Barack Obama (“Is Obama a pathological liar?”; bolds are mine):

    “The White House had already agreed to a lower revenue number — to be generated through economic growth and a more efficient tax code — and then it tried to change the terms of the deal after taking heat from Democrats on Capitol Hill,” our insider said.

    The negotiations just before breakdown called for $800 billion in new “revenues” (henceforth, we’ll call those “taxes”), but after the supposedly bipartisan plan came out — and bowing to the powerful liberal bloc on Capitol Hill — Mr. Obama demanded another $400 billion in new taxes: a 50 percent increase.

    The columnist, whose full name as far as I can immediately tell is “Curl,” was very sloppy in making the $800 billion look like new “taxes.” But at least he/she appears to get it. Unfortunately, many others on the center-right won’t, and won’t even try.

    What Boehner wanted before “negotiations” (i.e., talking to Barack “Brick Wall” Obama) broke down is a series of downward changes to marginal rates in the tax code offset by unnamed other changes which would have been scored as revenue-neutral by the Congressional Budget Office but whose incentive effects would increase collections in the real dynamic world by $800 billion over 10 years, because they would stimulate something real — economic growth and jobs.

    But that apparently wasn’t enough for Obama, who wanted actual tax increases hard-wired into the tax code — whereas Boehner had none.

    As he characterizes it, Boehner was correct in telling Fox News on Sunday that his design is NOT a tax increase. “Curl” awkwardly appears to characterize it as such. Untold others on the center-right will more directly say the same thing. Sadly, there are too many people who seem to be a lot more interested in beating up on the Speaker to generate reads and site traffic than they are in understanding and communicating substance, and who are all too willing to believe reports making him look bad from a media establishment whose mission it is to make him look bad. How many times in the past week did the press say a deal was close when it wasn’t?

    If/when Boehner sells out, I’ll let him have it with both barrels. As of late last night, it hasn’t happened yet. If it does, some of those on the center-right who should and do know better will have to look in the mirror to find where some of the blame lies.

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    UPDATE: Seriously, using the benchmarks some people are applying to Boehner, both the Reagan and Bush tax cuts, which also involved and resulted in increasing collections “through economic growth and a more efficient tax code,” were really “tax increases.” Zheesh.

    Positivity: Young pitcher excels with one hand

    Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

    From Johnson City, Kansas (video at link; HT Daryn Kagan):

    Posted: Jul 04, 2011 8:27 PM
    Updated: Jul 05, 2011 8:24 PM

    Some youth baseball coaches refused to let Nate Muehe play on their team even though he can reach 60 mph on the radar gun.

    But he’s proved them wrong. He may have just one arm, but the sixth grader is excelling as a pitcher in the 3&2 Baseball Club of Johnson County. He’s also a dynamo as center fielder and first baseman.

    “I think I’m pretty good,” he told KCTV5′s Brad Fanning. “I’m not the best, but I’m pretty good.”

    His coach, Donnie Happel, said Nate threw a perfect four-inning game with just 19 pitches. He said he was thrilled to get the chance to add Nate to his team.

    “Frankly, we were tired of him pitching against us,” Happel said. “He’s beat us the last two years pretty good.”

    Nate knows why some other coaches passed on him. He’s not embarrassed or ashamed or insecure. It’s a way of life for him, what he calls his “disability.”

    One of Nate’s arms was stunted when he was born. He admits he faces taunting and teasing from less understanding classmates, but he shrugs off the hurtful comments.

    “Some kids are just mean and they do say bad stuff about me. I just ignore ‘em. But some kids do say good things to me like you’re a good pitcher, nice hit, nice catch.”

    Other kids and their parents will ask Nate how he manages to play baseball so well. He has a ready reply: “You know I do everything you do, except with one hand. It’s not as hard as it sounds or looks actually.”

    He does get tired of discussing his birth defect, which he considers boring. So he has come up with a more dramatic story.

    “This one little boy walks up to me and goes, ‘What happened to your arm? It’s so tiny.’ I look at him and smile and say, ‘I got bit by a shark.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah dude, it just ripped my arm right off. He turns around and runs back to his Mom and says, ‘Mommy that man got bit by a shark. He has no hand.’” …

    Go here for the rest of the story.