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Bill USA

Bill USA's Journal
Bill USA's Journal
December 29, 2012

GOPers FINALLY identify cuts - to Medicare (raising the eligibility age)

[font size="3"] Republicans keep saying "we must have spending cuts" but say the Austerity Cliff impasse is Obama's fault for not identifying cuts for the GOP! (Of course NOBODY IN the GOP media echo chamber ever mentions this)[/font]


Republicans have been calling for huge spending cuts to resolve the so-called “fiscal cliff” but they’ve been reluctant to actually name the cuts they want, especially to Medicare — until now. The two GOP senators from Tennessee — Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander — unveiled a plan Friday with $1 trillion in cuts, most of which would come from Medicare.

The plan would raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67 and raise the cost of Medicare premiums for wealthier beneficiaries, which is reminiscent of Mitt Romney’s plan for the popular program that provides insurance to all Americans 65 and older.

“This will sound unpopular. This is bad medicine for many people. But it is part of what we are supposed to do,” Alexander said.

Corker and Alexander’s plan wouldn’t be part of a short-term deal to avert the “fiscal cliff,” which they assume will solve the question of the expiring Bush tax breaks. Rather, it would be used as a tradeoff in order to get Congress to raise the debt limit. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced Wednesday that the U.S. would hit the statutory debt limit on December 31, 2012. At that point “extraordinary measures” would be taken, giving the government two to three months to pay its bills before defaulting.
December 28, 2012

67% of Wealthy (>$450K) support taxing THEMSELVES MORE -

[font size="+1"]"67 percent of the top one percent of American earners support higher income taxes. Their support has grown since the election."

"The top one percent consist of people making more than $450,000 a year."[/font]


House Republicans are opposing tax increases on anyone – whether it's Americans making $250,000 or $1 million or more a year.

But a new survey shows that they might be opposing the very people they claim to protect.

American Express Publishing and The Harrison Group found that 67 percent of the top one percent of American earners support higher income taxes. Their support has grown since the election. This summer, 62 percent of them supported higher taxes.(Read more: Why 'Plan B' Would Actually Raise Taxes on Low Earners)

Some might say the rich are hoping to tax people richer – or poorer -- than themselves. The top one percent consist of people making more than $450,000 a year. [font color="red"]But the survey clearly shows most One Percenters favor taxing themselves[/font]. More than half say that they support taxing those making $500,000 or more.

Yet the Republicans insist on taking us over the Austerity Cliff because they want to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the top two percent. Even though the very well off are supportive of increasing taxes on them to reduce the deficit and to help the country dig out of this REPUBLICAN (ECONOMIC) DYSTOPIA.

I guess they recognize that while their income went up about 275% over the last 30 years their income taxes were reduced to about half what they paid in 1980. So, they feel paying about 4% points more won't kill them. So what is the GOP's purpose in taking the country into an Austerity Recession?

December 20, 2012

Pelosi: Boehner's bill 'the Merry Christmas gift to millionaires'

[font size="3"]...ah, a little straight talk is so welcome after listening to someone's professorial circumlocutions.[/font]


In a press conference held Thursday afternoon, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi excoriated House Speaker John Boehner's fiscal cliff alternative bill, "Plan B," and the sequestration alternative bill as "the Merry Christmas gift to millionaires" that would make 25 million working families pay $1,000 more in taxes every year, while people making over a million would see their rates increase, but would get a $50,000 bonus tax cut to make up for it.

Possibly as a result of getting an earful from her caucus, Pelosi stepped back a bit on her previous remarks about the chained CPI, stressing in these remarks that the necessary protections for the disabled, the very elderly, and the poor that would have to be incorporated into the mix call into question "how much do you save by the time you mitigate for all of that." She was far less supportive of the idea of a chained CPI than she was Wednesday, when she said it wasn't really a benefit cut and would get the support of her caucus.

Nonetheless, Congress and the White House are "getting farther away from an agreement" with this vote, she said, calling them "bills to nowhere." The president has achieved one victory, she said, in getting Boehner to relent on the tax rates for people making over $1 million, adding "they've already become a little big pregnant on their tax pledge that they'll never raise rates."

That's where Boehner's problem lies. The House already voted on the rule for the upcoming consideration of Boehner's bills, and he lost 13 Republicans on that vote. Those 13 are probably pretty solid "no" votes on the "Plan B" bill (though they'll likely gleefully vote for all the cuts in the accompanying bill. From reports out of D.C., Boehner is having a busy afternoon rounding up votes.

December 20, 2012

Boehner’s ‘plan B’ would redistribute wealth UPWARDS

Boehner’s ‘plan B’ would redistribute wealth upwards -
(emphases my own)

As Greg noted this morning, John Boehner is scrambling to secure Republican votes for “Plan B,” his alternative to the fiscal cliff compromise which would only raise taxes on income over $1 million. Boehner wants to be able to present himself as willing to compromise, but unwilling to go as far as President Obama wanted, which probably won’t work, because most Americans see GOP policies as too extreme, and have far more faith in Obama’s ability to handle economic problems than they do the GOP’s.

What’s missing from the discussion here is that the ideas that undergird “plan B” were already rejected by voters in the 2012 elections. While Republicans are selling this plan as proof they are willing to target the rich, the reality is that Plan B simply repackages a range of conservative ideas that would redistribute wealth upwards.

In particular, Plan B would retain the massive estate tax cuts pushed by Republicans in 2010 — and passed in exchange for a larger earned income tax credit — and it would block limits on itemized deductions for high income earners, which are scheduled to go into effect on January 1st. A recent analysis from the Tax Policy Center found that the latter would provide people with incomes over $1 million an average tax cut of $118,000 each. The former is even more egregious; under Plan B, the estate tax would only apply to estates worth more than $5 million, at a cost of $119 billion in revenue over the next ten years. And this money wouldn’t go towards struggling farms or small businesses (loosely defined) — it would go to the richest .3 percent of Americans who die each year, in effect, transferring huge amounts of national income to the nation’s wealthiest families.

On top of all of this, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows, is the fact that Boehner’s Plan B allows key improvements in tax credits for low income workers to lapse at the same time that it preserves benefits for the richest Americans. The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit — which were boosted in 2009 and 2010 — would lose substantial value: “Under Plan B,” notes the CBPP, “a mother with two children who works full time at the minimum wage of $7.25 and earns $14,500 a year would lose $1,560 of her Child Tax Credit, which would plummet from $1,725 to $165.”
December 19, 2012

President Obama Offers a Deal - (while the Repugnants maneuver for more)


No sooner did President Obama offer Speaker John Boehner a more-than-generous budget deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff than Mr. Boehner invoked what he called “Plan B.” After arguing, absurdly, that the president’s plan was unbalanced, Mr. Boehner offered an even cushier alternative for high-income taxpayers that would raise the threshold for higher tax rates to $1 million and preserve expiring tax cuts for the heirs of multimillion-dollar estates.

In addition, Plan B would delay any discussion of the fiscal cliff’s across-the-board spending cuts until next year, at which time Republicans would use the looming expiration of the debt-ceiling as a cudgel to maximize spending cuts to Medicare while minimizing cuts to defense. That would be déjà vu all over again.

Mr. Boehner’s plan may be merely an opportunity for Republicans to show they went kicking and screaming into the deal that Mr. Obama has put forward. Or it may be a genuine attempt to scuttle the deal. Either way, their intransigence is astonishing because the deal that Mr. Obama has put on the table should make it easy for them to say yes.

The president has met Republicans halfway on tax increases — mainly by agreeing that higher income tax rates will apply only to taxpayers making more than $400,000, versus the $250,000 threshold he campaigned on, [font color="red"]and by agreeing to keep the rate on dividend income at 20 percent, versus 39.6 percent as called for under current law[/font]. He also met them more than halfway on spending cuts, mainly by increasing his spending cut total to $930 billion over 10 years, from $600 billion originally, versus $1.2 trillion in cuts demanded by Republicans.

NOte: for the highest income groups like the top 1%, more of their income is in the form of capital gains and dividends than salary.
December 19, 2012

The President Negotiates With Himself - (AGAIN _B USA)


We have seen this so many times in the past four years that I certainly hope President Obama is not falling for it again.

Take a problem, any problem—economic meltdown, debt ceiling, rising deficits, you name it—which Republicans and Democrats are supposed to resolve through negotiation. Mr. Obama says he is ready to talk, and makes an initial offer that includes concessions to right-wing demands. Then he offers more concessions.

Republicans also claim they’re ready to talk, and maybe in private they offer compromises (like we’re told John Boehner did over the debt ceiling in 2011). But in public they stand firm on their positions, stick to their rhetorical talking points and brush back whatever the president suggests as not enough.

[font size="+1"]Eventually they meet somewhere around the president’s 20-yard line.[/font]

It’s happening again, right now, in the fiscal cliff talks.

December 19, 2012

CHART: All the fiscal cliff offers and counteroffers


It can get a bit tough to follow President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner’s back-and-forth debt deal negotiations, so we thought we’d put together a simple chart to explain how the two sides’ positions have evolved as the talks have progressed.


UPDATE: John Boehner’s proposal to extend the Bush tax cuts for income under $1 million is now included. The revenue figure is for a previous version of that plan, and may be greater than Boehner’s iteration actually generates Also, a word on “interest savings”: this is money saved because other deficit reduction measures will reduce the US debt load and thus the amount of money the federal government has to spend paying interest on that debt. As such, the amount is a function of the size of the rest of the package.

The first five figures are courtesy of Goldwein and CRFB, and the last (for Boehner’s latest volley) is an approximation based on the fact that interest savings typically amount to 15 percent of the interest-exclusive savings in a deficit package.

UPDATE II: We’ve revised down the revenue estimate on Boehner’s proposal to $300 billion (before interest) from $463 billion, reflecting the latest estimates of Boehner’s particular plan.
December 19, 2012

Boehner Invokes ‘Plan B,’ Dismissing Obama’s Offer

Crafty Repubs are now down to splitting the difference... no rationale, just putting something out there as a "well, it's better than saying fuck you" offer. ... sortof like saying, "well, if you'll take this we'll only sink the ship halfway."



WASHINGTON — Speaker John A. Boehner, pivoting to hardball tactics just days before a deadline in the fiscal impasse, promised to bring a bill to the House floor this week that would raise tax rates only on income over $1 million and leave in place across-the-board spending cuts to military and domestic programs that Republicans have warned could have dire consequences.

The move came less than 24 hours after President Obama offered a more comprehensive deal that would raise tax rates on income over $400,000, raise $1.2 trillion in new revenue and cut $930 billion in spending over 10 years. Mr. Boehner declared that unbalanced and insufficient.

“What we’ve offered meets the definition of a balanced approach, but the president is not there yet,” Mr. Boehner said Tuesday.

The speaker made it clear he would continue negotiating with the president, and some House Republicans emerged from a closed-door meeting with Mr. Boehner confident that a deal was now in reach.

December 18, 2012

Poll: Most want ‘fiscal cliff’ compromise but oppose cuts that may be part of deal


Most Americans want President Obama and congressional Republicans to compromise on a budget agreement, though they, too, are unhappy about the options that would avert the “fiscal cliff,” according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The strong support for compromise belies widespread public opposition to big spending cuts that are likely to be part of any deal.

Most Americans oppose slashing spending on Medicaid and the military, as well as raising the age for Medicare eligibility and slowing the increase of Social Security benefits, all of which appear to be on the table in negotiations. Majorities call each of these items “unacceptable.”

A clear majority of Americans, 74 percent, say they would tolerate Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on those with incomes over $250,000, but neither side in the talks thinks that alone would generate enough revenue to bridge the budget gap. A smaller majority backs limits to tax deductions.

[div class="excerpt" style="width:500px;"]

December 17, 2012

Eric Cantor’s letter spells out the continuing ALEC/Koch right-wing agenda


By fiat, Eric Cantor, as House Majority Leader, is the second most powerful man in the House of Representatives. The way Speaker John Boehner gets kicked around and disrespected by the Tea Party faction, Cantor may just be the most powerful man in the House. After all, he sets the agenda and herds committee chairs around to his way of thinking and he basically tells members of his party how to vote. If they demur, his party whip, Kevin McCarthy will kick their political asses.

Cantor, from Virginia’s 7th Congressional District is a natty dresser whose bespectacled visage and mop of black hair (there are dark hints of a dye job) make him look a decade younger than his 49 years. He’s Jewish. A rare conservative Republican Jew. The Jewish voting population as a whole isn’t terribly fond of Republicans. Democratic Presidential and Congressional candidates can routinely count on 70% of the Jewish vote. Yet Cantor recaptured his seat with a respectable 58% of the vote.

His political positions are crazy-glued in place. He’s a highly partisan Republican voting with the party 95% of the time. He predictably hates gays, unions and programs for minorities. He would control women’s reproductive rights. Cantor and his wife Diana are deeply divided on this issue. Of course he wants to dismantle Obamacare; not to mention Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. He loves the Ryan budget, fat cats, money (his net worth is in the $8 million range), shorting U.S. Treasuries, signing a helpful letter for Jack Abramoff and the Tea Party.

According to the Daily Kos, quoting a book written by Robert Draper, Cantor was also one of 12 Congressmen, including McCarthy, who attended a 2009 invitation-only meeting plotting to “bring Congress to a standstill” no matter the impact on the economy. Yep, where you gonna get a more perfect Majority Leader?

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About Bill USA

Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that

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