Archive for April 14, 2012

In the end, free societies get the governments they deserve. So, if the American people wish to choose their chief executive on the basis of the “war on women,” the Republican theocrats’ confiscation of your contraceptives, or whatever other mangy and emaciated rabbit the Great Magician produces from his threadbare topper, they are free to do so, and they will live with the consequences. This week’s bit of ham-handed misdirection was “the Buffett Rule,” a not-so-disguised capital-gains-tax hike designed to ensure that Warren Buffett pays as much tax as his secretary. If the alleged Sage of Omaha is as exercised about this as his public effusions would suggest, I’d be in favor of repealing the prohibition on Bills of Attainder, and the old boy could sleep easy at night. But instead every other American “millionaire” will be subject to the new rule — because, as President Obama said this week, it “will help us close our deficit.”

Wow! Who knew it was that easy?

A-hem. According to the Congressional Budget Office (the same nonpartisan bean-counters who project that on Obama’s current spending proposals the entire U.S. economy will cease to exist in 2027) Obama’s Buffett Rule will raise — stand well back — $3.2 billion per year. Or what the United States government currently borrows every 17 hours. So in 514 years it will have raised enough additional revenue to pay off the 2011 federal budget deficit. If you want to mark it on your calendar, 514 years is the year 2526. There’s a sporting chance Joe Biden will have retired from public life by then, but other than that I’m not making any bets.

Let’s go back to that presidential sound bite:

“It will help us close our deficit.”

I’m beginning to suspect that the Oval Office teleprompter may be malfunctioning, or that perhaps that NBC News producer who “accidentally” edited George Zimmerman into sounding like a racist has now edited the smartest president of all time into sounding like an idiot. Either way, it appears the last seven words fell off the end of the sentence. What the president meant to say was:

“It will help us close our deficit . . . for 2011 . . . within a mere half millennium!” [Pause for deafening cheers and standing ovation.]

Sometimes societies become too stupid to survive. A nation that takes Barack Obama’s current rhetorical flourishes seriously is certainly well advanced along that dismal path. The current federal debt burden works out at about $140,000 per federal taxpayer, and President Obama is proposing to increase both debt and taxes. Are you one of those taxpayers? How much more do you want added to your $140,000 debt burden? As the Great Magician would say, pick a number, any number. Sorry, you’re wrong. Whatever you’re willing to bear, he’s got more lined up for you.

Even if you’re absolved from federal income tax, you too require enough people willing to keep the racket going, and America is already pushing forward into territory the rest of the developed world is steering well clear of. On April Fools’ Day, Japan and the United Kingdom both cut their corporate-tax rates, leaving the United States even more of an outlier, with the highest corporate-tax rate in the developed world: The top rate of federal corporate tax in the U.S. is 35 percent. It’s 15 percent in Canada. Which is next door.

Well, who cares about corporations? Only out of touch dilettante playboys like Mitt Romney who — hmm, let’s see what I can produce from the bottom of the top hat — put his dog on the roof of his car as recently as 1984! That’s where your gran’ma will be under the Republicans’ plan, while your contraceptiveless teenage daughter is giving birth on the hood. “Corporations are people, my friend,” said Mitt, in what’s generally regarded as a damaging sound bite by all the smart people who think Obama’s plan to use the Buffett Rule to “close the deficit” this side of the fourth millennium is a stroke of genius.

But Mitt’s not wrong. In the end, a corporation doesn’t pay tax. The marble atrium of Global MegaCorp’s corporate HQ is indifferent to the tax rate; the Articles of Incorporation in the bottom drawer of the chairman’s desk couldn’t care less. Every dollar of “corporate” tax has to be fished out the pocket of a real flesh-and-blood human being, whether shareholder, employee, or customer.

And that’s the problem. For what Obama’s spending, there aren’t enough of them, or us, or “the rich” — and there never will be. There is only one Warren Buffett. He is the third-wealthiest person on the planet. The first is a Mexican, and beyond the reach of the U.S. Treasury. Mr. Buffett is worth $44 billion. If he donated the entire lot to the government of the United States, they would blow through it within four and a half days. Okay, so who’s the fourth-richest guy? He’s French. And the fifth guy’s a Spaniard. Number six is Larry Ellison. He’s American, but that loser is only worth $36 billion. So he and Buffett between them could keep the United States government going for a week. The next-richest American is Christy Walton of Walmart, and she’s barely a semi-Buffett. So her $25 billion will see you through a couple of days of the second week. There aren’t a lot of other semi-Buffetts, but, if you scrounge around, you can rustle up some hemi-demi-semi-Buffetts: If you confiscate the total wealth of the Forbes 400 richest Americans it comes to $1.5 trillion, which is just a little less than the Obama budget deficit for a year.

Read more here.

President Obama and Vice President Biden released their tax returns today, ahead of Tax Day, which is on April 17 this year (since April 15 falls on a Sunday and Monday is a Washington, D.C. holiday).
Obama Biden park bench

According to the White House, “Together, [the Bidens] reported adjusted gross income of $379,035. The Bidens paid $87,900 in total federal tax for 2011. They paid $13,843 in Delaware income tax and $3,614 in Virginia income tax. The Bidens contributed $5,540 to charity in 2011.”

In other words, the Bidens donated less than 1.5 percent of their adjusted gross income to charity.

Read more here.

California tax authorities revealed the state’s 500 biggest income tax delinquents Friday, and a surprising number of celebrities made the list.

Pamela Anderson, the “Baywatch” star, owes $524,241 in unpaid taxes, while Lionel Richie owes $1.1 million.

CNET co-founder Halsey Minor and his wife owe $10.5 million, and the founder of “Girls Gone Wild” Joe Francis owes $794,000.

Similarly, actor Nick Cassavetes and boxer James Toney owe $273,000 and $354,000, respectively.

The 500 delinquents owe nearly $233 million, prompting the California tax board to write: “When taxpayers do not pay their fair share, it places an unfair burden on those who do.”

Read more here.

A well-known, mainstream media-vetted college professor named Dr. Boyce Watkins states that it’s time for Trayvon Martin’s parents to “step to the side,” out of an apparent fear that “being honest” could negatively affect the race-baiting political agenda that Obama allies like Al Sharpton have carefully crafted.

Dr. Watkin’s stark admonishment, “Get her off the stage right now,“ came in a recent blog post that shows the goal of the politicization of the Martin shooting is not truth or justice.

Who is Dr. Boyce Watkins? He’s a professor at Syracuse University and his website shows that he’s been a frequent guest on cable news shows, including CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. He is also a frequent speaker on black issues, and his site shows his speeches have earned high praise from well-known leaders of the resentment-driven civil rights movement, including Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Michael Eric Dyson.

In his bluntly-titled article, Note to Trayvon’s Mother: It’s Time for You to Step to the Side, Dr. Watkins referred to the recent Today Show appearance by Trayvon Masrtin’s mother where she said:

One of the things that I still believe in, a person should apologize when they are actually remorseful for what they’ve done. I believe it was an accident. I believe that it just got out of control and he couldn’t turn the clock back. I would ask him, did he know that that was a minor, that that was a teenager, and that he did not have a weapon?”

Dr. Watkin’s reaction is pretty stunning:

When I heard these words, I froze in my tracks. I couldn’t believe that Trayvon’s mother would make a statement that was in such stark contradiction to the charges being brought forth by the prosecutor. In fact, there’s a big part of me that wonders why she was on the show at all.

Read more here.

A U.S. lawmaker says a “significant number” of Secret Service agents involved in an alleged prostitution scandal at an international summit brought women back to their hotel rooms before President Barack Obama arrived in Colombia.

U.S. Rep. Peter King, who was briefed Saturday on the investigation, tells The Associated Press that “close to” all 11 of the agents involved had women in the rooms at their hotel, which was separate from the one where Obama is now staying.

The New York Republican says the women were “presumed to be prostitutes,” but investigators are interviewing the agents. King heads the House Homeland Security Committee.

The AP had earlier confirmed that agents had been sent home because of misconduct involving prostitutes.

CNN reported the scandal erupted after one of the agents stiffed one of the hookers.

“One of the agents did not pay one of the prostitutes, and she complained to the police,” Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post reporter and author of “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect” told the network.

The Washington Post, which was the first to report the story, said Kessler alerted them to the situation.

Kessler told the Washington Post that while soliciting prostitutes is legal in Colombia within designated “tolerance zones,” it’s considered inappropriate by the Secret Service. Several of the agents involved are married, Kessler also told the DC paper.

CNN reported Saturday that, according to two government sources, several prostitutes were brought back to Cartagena’s Hotel Caribe by the Secret Service members, who were staying at the hotel that’s now home to President Obama, other White House staffers and members of the press corps.

Read more here.