Archive for July, 2012

Sorry, Obama: The tax code is already more progressive than pre-Reagan

Given the discussion about President Obama’s desire to raise taxes on “the rich” — i.e., families earning more than $250,000 a year — it’s rather convenient that the Congressional Budget Office yesterday published its latest look at earnings and taxes paid by income level. It tells us a couple of worthwhile things.

First, as I mentioned in a comment yesterday evening, it tells us the U.S. tax code is already rather progressive. Here are the numbers I posted yesterday in chart form; note that “federal taxes paid” includes not only income taxes but social-insurance taxes, corporate taxes (which, after all, are ultimately paid by individuals) and excise taxes for 2009, the most recent year the CBO has examined:

2009 CBO income vs. taxes

So, even when we include the payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, which disproportionately hit lower-income workers, the U.S. tax code is already sharply progressive. What liberal/progressivists have yet to tell us is exactly how much more progressive they …

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2012 Tuesday: Obama gives ‘tax the rich’ one more heave

We learned a few things yesterday with President Obama’s announcement that he wants to extend the current individual income tax rates for one more year, but only for those making less than $250,000 a year:

  • The current rates — commonly described as the “Bush tax cuts” even though they have been in full force for nine years, two years of which required Obama’s signature — apply to more than just “the rich.” Otherwise, how could they be extended for everyone who isn’t rich?
  • Even Obama understands that the economy is still too weak to withstand a major tax hike during the next presidential administration (his second, or Mitt Romney’s first). That is a pretty strong, if tacit, admission that his entire first term has failed to see a middle-class recovery of any consequence, just a stop to the bleeding — at most. Once upon a time, he theorized that such a result would lead to a “one-term proposition” for himself.
  • This move has nothing to do with being serious about the deficit, …

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Here’s the deal

The tone, attitudes, language and lack of civility on this blog’s comments thread have become unacceptable lately. I don’t know if it’s because of the heat, or because it’s summertime and some of you are juveniles with more time on your hands than usual, or something else. But it’s got to stop.

I have tended to allow a fairly rowdy discourse during the nearly three years I’ve run this blog, with only a scant set of basic rules (which still apply) and intermittent crackdowns on those who break them. The deterioration into comment-thread wars over the past week-plus, however, have convinced me that this is no longer adequate. (Don’t bother looking for the discussions in question; I have removed more than 200 comments from various threads in recent days.) This blog, like all AJC blogs, particularly Opinion blogs, is intended to be used for civil discourse.

The following rules are effective immediately:

1. Anyone who comes onto the blog with personal attacks and little to nothing …

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No court victories can keep bad economic news at bay for Obama

While I was away* several people asked me how long I thought President Obama would ride his Obamacare victory at the Supreme Court. My answer: Until the next bad economic news comes out.

Which turned out to be Friday’s jobs report.

The government reported just 80,000 net jobs created in June and an unemployment rate holding steady at 8.2 percent. That means the second quarter was the worst for job creation in two years and represented three more months in which job creation didn’t even keep pace with population growth. If labor-force participation was at the same level it was when Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be a dismal 10.9 percent — almost double what the Obama administration predicted for June 2012 with its “stimulus” package passed. As it is, our 41-month streak of more than 8 percent joblessness — covering Obama’s entire presidency — is the longest since the Great Depression.

This chart from economist Greg Mankiw’s blog tells the story:

Greg Mankiw employment population ratio

The percentage …

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2012 Tuesday: Romney’s Obamacare missteps

I previously wrote that the effect of the Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling on the presidential race would depend on how each campaign reacted to it. So far, not so good for Mitt Romney.

Romney’s initial statement made clear that he, and only he, would sign a repeal of Obamacare as president. A good start. Since then, however, it’s either been silence or an unforced error.

The unforced error, of course, was his spokesman’s televised comment that Romney doesn’t believe Obamacare’s mandate is a tax. The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes has a good summary:

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom appeared [Monday] on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, where he agreed with the host’s assertion that Romney “believes that you should not call the penalty a tax.”

Fehrnstrom explained: “The governor disagreed with the ruling of the Court. He agreed with the dissent written by Justice Scalia, which very clearly stated that the mandate is not a tax.” Later, Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg …

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Democrats show their penchant for economic inefficiency in — wait for it — their fund-raising emails

Democrats say they’re worried about Mitt Romney’s fund-raising edge. President Obama himself has mentioned the possibility he’ll be the first incumbent president outspent by his opponent. It turns out there’s a simple explanation.

On Friday night, the Romney campaign sent an email about the Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling (subject line: “If you haven’t heard”) that concluded:

This November it’s all on the line. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

Donate $10 or more to put a stop to the policies of Barack Obama and the liberal Democrats.

Then, about an hour and a half later, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz sent an email of her own about the ruling (subject line: “This is personal”) imploring supporters:

This law is far too important to too many Americans for Republicans to throw it out.

Give Democrats the resources we need to win and protect this historic achievement — and the lives of millions of Americans. Donate $3 or more today

Silly Democrats. If you want as much money as …

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