January 3, 2013

Politico’s Sloan Writes That Dems Are ‘Done Hiking Tax Rates,’ But Doesn’t Say They Wish to Hike Effective Marginal Rates

In a late Wednesday column at the Politico, the online website’s Steven Sloan wrote that Democrats might be done hiking tax rates, specifically “that they’ve exhausted their ability to raise taxes on the richest Americans by jacking up their rates.” But it’s clear in later segments of his write-up that Democrats still want to go after “loopholes” and deductions, meaning that they still want to see effective marginal rates — the ones which motivate high income earners’ decisionmaking — to get “jacked up.” Such moves would also mean that the tax owed on a given amount of gross income would go up; i.e., they would be tax increases.

In suport of his misdirecting premise, Sloan quoted many Democrats, but somehow forgot to include Democratic President Barack Obama’s stated position after the fiscal cliff mess concluded. In a video for supporters, as relayed by Joel Gehrke at the Washington Examiner, Obama didn’t budge from using the same language he has used all along to justify tax increases. Gehrke’s accurate headline captures the essence (video is at link; bolds are mine throughout this post):

(more…)

Current TV’s David Shuster (Formerly of MSNBC) Wants David Gregory to Apologize for MTP Magazine Stunt

On New Year’s Day, perhaps before he learned that his current employer’s enterprise would be sold to Al Jazeera, Current TV’s David Shuster took to the bandwidth of the Huffington Post to ask that former NBC/MSNBC colleague David Gregory apologize for his December 23 gun magazine-waving stunt on Meet the Press.

Get a load of the sense of self-importance Shuster gives the Sunday news show (bolds are mine):

(more…)

ADP: 215K Private Sector Jobs Added in December; November Revised Up By 30K

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 9:35 am

From ADP:

Private-sector employment increased by 215,000 from November to December, on a seasonally adjusted basis. (The estimated gain from October to November was revised up from the initial estimate of 118,000, to 148,000).

Highlights:

Small businesses (1-49 employees) +25,000
Medium businesses (50-499 employees) +102,000
Large businesses (500 or more employees) +87,000

That’s decent but not stellar news, given the size of the jobs gap.

Initial Unemployment Claims: 372K SA, up 10K From Previous Week, Which Was Revised Up by 12K;

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:44 am

From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending December 29, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 372,000, an increase of 10,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 362,000. The 4-week moving average was 360,000, an increase of 250 from the previous week’s revised average of 359,750.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 495,588 in the week ending December 29, an increase of 40,459 from the previous week. There were 540,057 initial claims in the comparable week in 2011.

Last week’s original seasonally adjusted result was 350K. This week’s revised number is 12K higher, and occurred because the number of raw claims for that week increased by about 14,200.

We were warned by DOL that it was probably underestimating claims because of late reporting, but the press went ahead with reports that the number was great news. Will anyone say “never mind” in their reports today? Doubtful.

This year’s seasonal factor (for the week ended December 29) was 133.4. Last year’s, for the week ended December 31, 2011, was 141.1. The weeks really aren’t comparable, so a “what if” on using last year’s factor isn’t relevant. Next week’s year-over-year factors will also not be comparable.

Overall, absent info to the contrary, this is evidence that the job market is treading water at best.

UPDATE: Via AP

Many state unemployment offices were closed this week for the New Year’s holiday and did not submit complete data for last week. As a result, the department relied on estimates for nine states. Two weeks ago, the department estimated 19 states because of Christmas closings

A significant upward revision next week seems quite likely.

‘Negotiating’ With the Left: A Waste of Time

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:15 am

John Boehner’s two years as Speaker prove it.

______________________________________

This column went up at FrontPageMag.com earlier this morning.

______________________________________

Having lived in Greater Cincinnati for most of my life, I’ve had a chance to observe Congressman John Boehner’s actions and performance from a perspective most haven’t.

Most of what I saw until he became House Speaker in January 2011 was good — usually very good. What has transpired since has not been. Boehner and House Republicans have been unable to put the brakes on the country’s headlong rush towards insolvency driven by President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the federal regulatory leviathan, and the courts, or on their continued trampling of our fundamental freedoms.

I can already see the excuses: “Tom, the House of Representatives is only one-half of one of the three branches of government. You can’t expect Boehner and Republican leaders to withstand the daily assaults from all other quarters.” Sure, I get that. Add the adversarial, hostile, double standard-driven establishment press to the mix, and one can totally understand the daunting challenges the Speaker has faced.

There’s one problem with that attempt at justification, and it has nothing to do with ordinary expectations. It instead has everything to do with the heightened expectations Boehner and the Republican Party created in the run-up to the 2010 congressional elections, embodied in both the party’s Pledge to America and Boehner’s October 2010 speech just a few weeks before Election Day.

By that time, it was clear to almost everyone, thanks to the growing influence of the Tea Party movement, the pathetic economic recovery, and the unprecedentedly awful job market, that Nancy Pelosi’s reign as Speaker of the House was going to end, and that Boehner, with a solid post-election GOP majority, was a virtual lock to become its next Speaker.

Boehner’s speech and the party’s Pledge gave millions of frightened mainstream Americans hope that they could, and would, right the ship of state. Consider just a few things Boehner said in that October speech, and compare them to actual results.

“(This speech is) about the jobs that were promised to the American people by the current administration, and never delivered.”

At the time, total seasonally adjusted private-sector employment as measured by the Establishment Survey at the Bureau of Labor Statistics was eight million below its January 2008 peak. 25 months later, private-sector employment, which should by now have jumped to several million above that 2008 high, is still down by 3.7 million. Even those grim statistics understate the gravity of the employment situation and how little improvement we’ve seen, especially in comparison to past recoveries. Full-time employment as measured by the BLS’s Household Survey is still 6.2 million lower than its peak in late 2007, while part-time employment is up by 2.8 million. Since the recession officially ended in June 2009, over 800,000 of the 3.3 million net jobs added have gone to those who toil at temporary help firms.

“The greatest threat to job creation in our country is the flawed idea that we can tax, spend and borrow our way to prosperity.”

In the 24 months Boehner has been Speaker, the government has run a deficit of over $2 trillion, spent over $7 trillion, increased the national debt by over $2.4 trillion, and done almost nothing to contain the explosive growth of entitlements.

“Our plan cuts spending immediately, back to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels.”

If that were currently the case, the government would be spending about $2.9 trillion annually — still far more than necessary to carry out is constitutionally assigned functions (a topic for another day). Instead, it has spent $3.4 to $3.6 trillion during each of the past four fiscal years, and is off to a record-shattering start in fiscal 2013.

“Your government is out of control. Do you have to accept it? Do you have to take it? Hell no you don’t! That’s what elections are for! In Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote that ‘we have it in our power to begin the world over again.’ In just 25 days, voters will have a chance to do just that.”

Unlike many others, I really believe that John Boehner intended to get what he described as an “out of control” government back on track. Nobody who heard that speech could possibly have imagined that he would acquiesce to an August 2011 debt-ceiling deal that put off serious consideration of what we are doing to our children, grandchildren and generations yet to be born until after the 2012 elections, seriously crippling 2012 GOP election campaigns across the land. There was also no reason to believe that Boehner would just over two years later get behind fiscal cliff-preventing legislation which by some accounts involves $41 in tax increases for ever dollar in spending “cuts,” which we know really means “reductions in projected spending increases.” A January 2 Wall Street Journal editorial asserts that the legislation involved represents “the biggest tax increase in 20 years” coupled with “spending increases.”

So what happened? Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Washington Republicans have naively believed, and probably still do despite their repeated humiliations, that there can be honest negotiations with Washington Democrats led by the most radical president in U.S. history. That is not possible.

Boehner’s only alternative from Day 1 of his speakership, something which I erroneously thought he finally realized in that 2010 speech, was to:

  • Insist on constitutional grounds that the House would consider no revenue-raising legislation originating in the Senate. (Article 1, Section 7: “All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.”)
  • Pass comprehensive legislation to accomplish the goals articulated in the Pledge for America.
  • Adjourn, and don’t come back. If the Senate or the President wouldn’t sign, then the government would shut down, and it would be blindingly obvious to anyone with an ounce of sense who caused it.

The People’s House has the constitutional power of the purse. John Boehner hasn’t leveraged it. Until he or the next Speaker does, the left will rule the fiscal roost in Washington, and our nation’s rapid descent into bankruptcy will be virtually assured.

Missing Breitbart

When will conservatives take the fight to the left as he did?

__________________________________

This column went up at PJ Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Tuesday.

__________________________________

Just before Christmas, after only being able to watch it in bits and pieces during October and November, I finally had the chance to take in the documentary film Hating Breitbart in one sitting.

What prompted me to do so was some unfortunate news, namely a lawsuit filed by the immensely talented Dana Loesch signifying that the late Andrew Breitbart’s nascent publishing empire may be imploding. I hope I’m wrong about that, but based on my limited conversations with him when he was alive and my observations from afar, I completely agree with those who say that Andrew never would have let things get to this point. That whoever is currently running things at Breitbart has allowed such a deterioration to occur seems not to bode well for the operation’s long-term success, or even its survival.

While viewing the film, I could not help but wonder whether November’s presidential election might have turned out differently if Andrew had not died on March 1.

Despite all the establishment press hype about Barack Obama’s “convincing” victory, the fact remains that he won with a smaller percentage of the popular vote (50.6%) than every successful incumbent in the past century except three, all Democrats who failed to achieve popular vote majorities: Bill Clinton in 1996, the second time he won with only a minority of the popular vote; Harry Truman in 1948 in a four-way race; and Woodrow Wilson in 1916. Fewer than 200,000 switched votes in four battleground states would have changed November’s outcome to a Romney win.

Breitbart is one of the main reasons why a Republican candidate, and especially one who we have since learned really didn’t want to run for the office, even had a ghost of a chance against Obama. That’s because in September 2009, as Hating Breitbart demonstrates, he ensured that filmmaker James O’Keefe’s undercover videos at ACORN locations throughout the country would receive the visibility they deserved.

But he did much more than that. His slow-drip approach to releasing the videos baited ACORN head Bertha Lewis into repeatedly claiming that O’Keefe had exhausted his supply of damning material. Every time Lewis said that, another outrageous, offensive, scandalous and embarrassing episode would appear.

After desperately trying to ignore the story in its first few days, the press went into gullibly relaying Lewis’s spin, along with her bogus charges that O’Keefe’s work was “heavily edited” (even though he, unlike his critics, posted his raw footage), that he was somehow racist, and that what he was doing was somehow not legitimate “journalism.” This last point particularly reeked of hypocrisy. ABC’s Food Lion debacle in the 1990s involved undercover reporters acting as participants and egging on reluctant fellow employees to do things they wouldn’t have otherwise wanted to do. By contrast, O’Keefe and partner Hannah Giles merely posed as clients (a pimp and his prostitute) needing help, and watched ACORN employees freely reveal the degrees of treachery, criminality and exploitation they would shamelessly support.

Thanks to O’Keefe’s work and Breitbart’s strategy, ACORN went from being one of the most untouchable leftist front groups in the country to a defunded pariah in Washington forced to suspend its operations in less than ten days. A few months later, it was out of business as a national organization. At the same time, Breitbart and O’Keefe completely exposed the knee-jerk leftist instincts of establishment press. I’m not naive enough to believe that ACORN’s demise meant the end of the left’s efforts to rig voting, but it slowed them down considerably. A full-blown entrenched ACORN juggernaut in 2012 would have made it difficult for even the second coming of Ronald Reagan to compete.

The movie also shows that without Breitbart, the obviously orchestrated “N-word “and spitting lies surrounding events on the day ObamaCare passed in March 2010 might have stood. Democrats had hoped to bait Tea Party-sympathetic demonstrators at the Capitol into saying or doing something racist or offensive by marching several African-American congressmen right through the crowd. When nothing other than shouts of “Kill the Bill” happened, Andre Carson, John Lewis, and the others just made stuff up. Breitbart demanded recorded proof that anyone ever said the N-word (let alone 15 times, as Carson claimed), and offered a princely sum to anyone among the thousands who were there with cellphones and cameras recording what was going on who could provide it. Nobody did, because it didn’t happen.

What Breitbart understood, and what all too many establishment Republicans and even conservatives don’t, is that there is no accommodating the left, and there is no hope of receiving fair treatment from the left-dominated establishment press. They are hell-bent on fundamentally transforming the country into a socialist utopia which has never succeeded anywhere it has been tried, and the press is determined to help them do that. Folks, no matter what you do, they’re going to hate you (and hate is the right word). So you might as well do the right thing and follow your beliefs and principles (John “Plan B” Boehner, please note).

This country now has a government headed by the most radical president in U.S. history, one with the worst economic record since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal extended the Great Depression by eight years. He nevertheless won reelection largely because his opponent conceded too much ground and wouldn’t fight hard enough for what remained.

Barack Obama and the left believe they have only just begun. Sensible, Constitution-anchored conservatives need to start acting as an army of Breitbarts.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (010313)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:01 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

__________________________________________

Positivity: Hero cop saves children from rip

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Ohope, New Zealand (“rip” means “riptide”):

3rd Jan 2013 2:30 PM Updated: 6:25 PM

A police officer is being called a hero after rescuing two 11-year-old boys and a man from a rip in Ohope.

Constable Dean Oswald _ who has been involved in surf lifesaving since childhood _ stripped to his underwear and plunged into Ohiwa Harbour to reach the boys, who had got caught in a rip, and the man who had got into trouble while trying to save them.

Mr Oswald praised another man and a 19-year-old who arrived at the beach with lifejackets and waded out behind him to help the rescue. They reached one child and Mr Oswald reached the other. The pair then helped the boys to shore while Mr Oswald swam out further to reach the man.

“One of the boys said `My uncle, my uncle’ and I saw him further out, lying face-up with waves breaking over him. He was conscious but I’d say pretty close to going under,” Mr Oswald said.

“It took about 15 minutes to pull him back to shore _ every time a wave came I said to him ‘close your eyes, close your mouth, we’re going under’.”

Once ashore the three were picked up by helicopter and taken to Whakatane Hospital. One boy was kept in overnight but is understood to be recovering. …

Go here for the rest of the story.