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Bill USA

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Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 05:25 PM
Number of posts: 6,436

About Me

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

Journal Archives

'Taxes on the Rich at a 30 yr High - Tax Policy Center' - monstrous disinformation by AP writer

This is patent disinformation by the AP's STEPHEN OHLEMACHER. it has appeared all over the mainstream press including here on Washington Post ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/federal-tax-bills-for-rich-near-30-year-high-while-everyone-else-pays-historically-low-rates/2013/03/03/5275c4c0-83ff-11e2-a80b-3edc779b676f_story.html )

The article makes it sound like the TAx Policy Center has made the asssertion in the title. When the data published by the Tax Policy Center shows - as most people know - that the truly rich (not as Ohlemacher defines them) are currently paying income taxes at a 30 year LOW - actually at about one half the rate they paid in 1980. Ohlemacher is talking about the top 20%. That includes millions of people who virtually no economist and few non-economists would include in the category "rich" - people making $223,500 (in 2009 dollars). That is a very good income - but do most people really consider that 'rich'? The top 1% begins with an income of $380,354. I don't think most people would consider someone making $223,000 rich. I think people would consider those making somewhere between $250,000 and $300,000 rich.

The article also includes a quote from one individual at the Tax Policy Center which is probably taken out of context since the data presented by the Tax Policy Center shows the top 1% are paying income taxes at a rate which is about half what they paid in 1980 putting their Income tax rates at a THirty year LOW - NOT a thirty year HIGH.

Here is the same article on Huffpo:
(emphasis my own)

A new analysis, however, shows that average tax bills for high-income families rarely have been higher since the Congressional Budget Office began tracking the data in 1979. Middle- and low-income families aren’t paying as much as they used to.

For 2013, families with incomes [font size="3"]in the top 20 percent [/font]of the nation will pay an average of 27.2 percent of their income in federal taxes, according to projections by the Tax Policy Center, a research organization based in Washington. The top 1 percent of households, those with incomes averaging $1.4 million, will pay an average of 35.5 percent.

Those tax rates, which include income, payroll, corporate and estate taxes, are among the highest since 1979.

The average family in the bottom 20 percent of households won’t pay any federal taxes. Instead, many families in this group will get payments from the federal government by claiming more in credits than they owe in taxes, including payroll taxes. That will give them a negative tax rate.

“My sense is that high-income people feel abused by being targeted always for more taxes,” Roberton Williams, a fellow at the Tax Policy Center, said. “You can understand why they feel that way.”

Historical Income Distribution for All Households

Republicans Won't Take 'Yes' for an Answer - Paul Krugman

(emphases my own)


Ezra Klein mans up and admits he was wrong. He had written a piece suggesting that if only Republicans knew how much Obama has been willing to offer, they might be willing to make a deal. Jonathan Chait set him straight, informing him that no matter what Obama put on the table, Republicans would find a way to say that it’s not enough. And sure enough, a Twitter exchange lets Klein watch that process in real time, as a top Republican consultant, confronted with evidence that Obama has already conceded what he said was all that was needed, keeps adding more demands.

So Klein admits that Republicans just don’t want to make a deal. Their objections to the deals on the table aren’t sincere; if convinced that Obama has met their demands, they just make more demands.


The whole push for a Grand Bargain has been based on the notion that we can reach a fiscal deal that takes the whole fight over the budget off the table. What Klein has belatedly learned is how unlikely such a Bargain really is; but the same logic tells us that any Grand Bargain that might somehow be struck, via Obama’s mystical ability to mind-meld Star Trek and Star Wars or something, wouldn’t last. In a year — or more likely in a minute or two — Republicans would be back, demanding more tax cuts and more cuts in social programs. They just won’t take yes for an answer.

Meanwhile, it’s not just Republicans who refuse to accept it when Obama gives them what they want; the same applies, with even less justification, to centrist pundits. As people like Greg Sargent point out time and again, the centrist ideal — deficit reduction via a mix of revenue increases and benefits cuts — is what Obama is already offering; in fact, his proposals have been to the right of Bowles-Simpson. [font size="3" color="red"]Yet the centrist pundits keep demanding that Obama offer what he has already offered, and condemn both sides equally (or even place most of the blame on Obama) for the failure to reach a deal.[/font] Again, informing them of their error wouldn’t help;[font size="3"] their whole shtick is about blaming both sides, and they will always invent some reason why Obama just isn’t doing it right[/font].


NOTE: Krugman and Joe Scarborough will be on the GOP's Charlie Rose's show - tomorrow. You may want to watch so you can then post here and on Rose's web-site about Scarborough's bullshit.

Public wary about sequester cuts, but Obama in stronger political position than GOP


With automatic, across-the-board spending cuts set to begin Friday, majorities of Americans believe that approach is not a good idea and also say the contentious budget negotiations make them less confident about the U.S. economy, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Click here for full poll results (.pdf)

Despite those findings, a majority still supports Congress moving ahead with either the current cuts or a plan containing even more cuts as a way to reduce the deficit, suggesting the public’s general appetite for reducing spending.

But the poll also shows that as the nation’s political actors once again quarrel over these automatic cuts totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years – commonly referred to as sequestration or the sequester – President Barack Obama finds himself in a much stronger position than his Republican adversaries.

“If the president needs some tweaks and adjustments, the Republican Party is pretty much in need of a major makeover,” says Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Hart Research Associates, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff.

NBC/WSJ poll: Public says GOP less interested in unity than Obama is

But by nearly a 3-to-1 margin, respondents conclude that the Republican Party is emphasizing partisanship more than unity.

In the poll, 48 percent say Obama is pursuing a path to unify the country in a bipartisan way, while 43 percent say he's taking a partisan approach that doesn't unify the country.

By comparison, 64 percent say the Republican Party is taking a partisan approach, versus 22 percent who say it's focused on unity.

As for the Democratic Party, a plurality of respondents -- by a 49 percent to 37 percent margin -- think it is emphasizing partisanship more than unity.

Economic Downturn and Legacy of Bush Policies Continue to Drive Large Deficits


Federal deficits and debt have risen sharply under President Obama, but the evidence continues to show that the Great Recession, President Bush’s tax cuts, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain most of the deficits that have occurred on Obama’s watch — based on the latest Congressional Budget Office projections as well as legislation enacted since we last issued this analysis of what lies behind current deficits.

Though some lawmakers and pundits continue to blame record deficits on the President’s policies in general — and his actions to boost the economy and stabilize the financial system in particular — these policies increase budget deficits only briefly; they will have no significant impact on the long-term problem of large deficits and rising debt.

The deficit for fiscal year 2009 — which began almost four months before President Obama took office — was $1.4 trillion and, at 10 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), marked the largest deficit relative to the economy since the end of World War II. Annual deficits in 2010 through 2012, while slightly lower, each topped $1 trillion. If current policies remain in place, deficits are expected to range between $600 billion and $900 billion for the rest of this decade, reaching a low around 2015 before climbing again.

Although longer-term pressures on spending stem chiefly from an aging population and rising health-care costs, those pressures are not new. Policymakers knew about them when they enacted the Bush-era tax cuts and assented to fighting two wars on borrowed money. (These pressures also were taken into account in the Congressional Budget Office projections issued at the start of 2001, which showed budget surpluses for the next several decades.)

The Supreme Court Seems Ready to Send Voting Rights Issue to Congress


So what happens next on voting rights?

The Supreme Court justices fell along predictable lines when they heard an argument over the constitutionality of a key section of the Voting Rights Act—its Section 5, which mandates that certain covered jurisdictions, mostly in the South, must get Justice Department approval before they may implement changes in their voting procedures.

Justice Antonin Scalia called the provision “a racial entitlement.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor facetiously asked if voting itself was an entitlement. Justice Elena Kagan said the current formula for determining who gets covered by Section 5 was working pretty well. Chief Justice John Roberts, who has led the charge to reconsider Section 5, asked if citizens in the South are more prejudiced than citizens elsewhere. The man in the middle, Justice Anthony Kennedy, hailed the Voting Rights Act and said Section 5 was fine in its time but likened it to the Marshall Plan as something that was dated.

I’d venture that the Court sends Congress back to tinker with the formula that determines which jurisdictions get covered by Section 5 rather than jettisoning Section 5 entirely. Chucking Section 5 entirely is possible, but Justice Roberts got eight justices got on board for a 2009 opinion that made it easier for jurisdictions to “bail out” if they had a clean record of nondiscrimination. If he could find a way to get more than the Republican five, he'd have reason to take it—and this could be the way.

Unless the Court just upholds the law, which seems hard to imagine after Wednesday's oral arguments, they’re kicking it back to Congress, where its last renewal in 2006 passed with almost 400 votes in the House and 98 in the Senate before being signed by President George W. Bush.

Lobbyists and Legislators, working both sides of the street - Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

[font size="3"]The Revolving Door Spins from Sea to Shining Sea[/font]

"The temptation for officeholders to seek greener pastures in lobbying can be even greater in statehouses where salaries are small and legislative sessions infrequent."



Jesse Eisinger, writing at The New York Times, reports that on January 25, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid announced the appointment of Cathy Koch as his chief advisor on tax and economic policy. According to the Times, “The news release lists Ms. Koch’s admirable and formidable experience in the public sector. ‘Prior to joining Senator Reid’s office,’ the release says, ‘Koch served as tax chief at the Senate Finance Committee.’”

But, Eisinger notes, the press statement fails to mention Ms. Koch’s actual last job — as a registered lobbyist for GE. “Yes, General Electric,” he writes, “the company that paid almost no taxes in 2010. Just as the tax reform debate is heating up, Mr. Reid has put in place a person who is extraordinarily positioned to torpedo any tax reform that might draw a dollar out of GE — and, by extension, any big corporation.”

One other example cited in the Times article: Julie Williams, chief counsel for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency — “and a major friend of the banks for years” — has been forced out of the OCC by its new boss and is joining Promontory Financial Group, “a classic Washington creature that is a private sector mirror image of a regulatory body.”

Promontory plays both sides of the field, helping financial companies hack their way through the bogs of regulation while simultaneously “helping” the OCC review said regulations — like the just abandoned Independent Foreclosure Review that essentially let the banks hire outside “experts” to decide who had been victimized by the banks’ abuse of mortgages. Result: not a dime to affected homeowners but $1.5 billion in consulting fees to Promontory and other companies like it.

Medicare Uncovered: What’s in a name? (the GOP prettifies vouchers)



Some brief history of vouchers, and how we describe them, is in order: Since economists Henry Aaron and Robert Reischauer called for voucherizing Medicare back in the mid-1990s, the concept has been painted with a lot of lipstick. Aaron and Reischauer dubbed it “premium support.” After all, the government would be giving Medicare beneficiaries money “support” to pay for a “premium.” But lipstick on a pig doesn’t do away with the pig. And a voucher plan by another name is still a voucher plan.

“Premium support” seemed less harsh than “voucher” and conveyed a veneer of objectivity. The wonk and foundation community liked the term. Sometimes those folks used the term “defined contribution.” That was really wonky, and most Americans had no clue what it meant. It was a term borrowed from the pension world, where Americans once had good “defined benefit” plans, in which benefits were determined by a formula based on age and years of service on the job. Those have been replaced by the less good “defined contribution” plans, like 401(k)s, in which employer contributions are optional, and workers’ own contributions determine the benefit they eventually get. “Defined contribution” in the context of Medicare means the size of the contribution the government makes determines how good the coverage will be.

In the late 1990s and afterwards, voucher supporters, notably conservatives and Republicans, used the term “Medicare privatization.” The term meant that private insurers would have a larger role in providing Medicare benefits, on the theory they could provide benefits cheaper than the government. That has not necessarily been the case. Currently, private insurers provide the prescription drug benefit for all beneficiaries, and they also provide all Medicare benefits for million or so Americans who have chosen Medicare Advantage plans. For the rest of Medicare recipients, the government still provides the benefits.

The idea of privatizing Medicare has not resonated with large segments of the public. Republicans—who mostly supported the concept—believe it is time for new language, as the National Journal reported. Testing showed that people think of the word “premium” as something high end, like a car, not insurance, and certainly not something low end like paying more for their healthcare. Sanger-Katz reports that the testing showed that the public likes the words “choice” and “competition.” Sounds a little like Frank Luntz, doesn’t it? So Republicans have banished “premium support” from their talking points in favor of the new term, “competitive bidding.”

Overturning The Voting Rights Act Would Be Seminal Moment For Conservative 'Legal' Movement


When the Supreme Court hears oral arguments Wednesday on the Voting Rights Act, opponents will argue that a centerpiece of the law aimed at letting the federal government proactively thwart attempts at voter discrimination has outlived its validity.

“The only reason Section 5 was originally justified and upheld by the courts was because of Jim Crow — the unusual circumstances at the time in terms of voter disenfranchisement,” Ilya Shapiro, the editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review who filed an amicus brief in the case, told TPM. “I don’t think there’s a way to justify Section 5 anymore.”

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires state and local governments across 16 states — mostly in the South — to seek preclearance from the Justice Department or a federal court before making any changes to their laws which affect voting. Shapiro said the point of the lawsuit is that residents in each of the covered jurisdictions are being treated unfairly.

“There’s a tremendous imposition of paperwork and litigation costs on these jurisdictions to making voting changes — even miniscule things like moving a polling place from a park to a school,” he said, pointing out that the vast majority of proposed changes get approved. “All this would say is that you would no longer have a presumption that everything that states in the covered areas do is unconstitutional.”


How Republicans Plan to (i.e. Will) Rig the Electoral College and Steal the White House

The Corporate Lobbyist party realizing the odds are longer and longer on them winning anymore Presidential elections (even by buying them).. they have decided it's better to just circumvent a democratic election altogether. This approach has its beauty (to fascists) for its simplicity.


If a Republican plan to rig the Electoral College had been in effect in 2012, however, it is reasonably likely that President Romney would be the one meeting with his new cabinet officials in the Oval Office. Under current law, most states allocate all of their electoral votes to the winner of the state as a whole. This Republican Plan to rig future elections, however, would change this in several blue states where Democrats are likely to carry the state’s full slate of electors. Texas, South Carolina, and other safe red states would therefore continue to deliver every single one of their electoral votes to the Republican candidate, while blue states such as Pennsylvania or Michigan would have to give away half or more of theirs to the Republican ticket. The result is a giant thumb on the scale for Republicans, enabling them to take the White House even when the electorate strongly prefers the Democratic candidate.

How the Republican election-rigging plan works

This Republican Plan would reallocate electoral votes so that a maximum of two electoral votes would go to the overall winner of several key blue states. The lion’s share of the state’s electors would then be allocated one by one to the presidential candidate who won each individual congressional district. (see Figure 1) Thus, in a blue state such as Michigan—which President Obama won by nearly 10 points in 2012—Gov. Romney would have received 9 of the state’s 16 electoral votes because he received more votes than the president did in nine of the state’s congressional districts. In other words, the Republican candidate would receive more than half of the state’s electoral votes despite being overwhelmingly defeated in the state as a whole.

Cashing in on gerrymandering

The Republican Plan does not just apply one set of rules in red states and another set of rules in blue states—it also takes advantage of profoundly gerrymandered congressional maps in order to stack the deck even more for Republican presidential candidates. In 2012 Democratic House candidates received nearly 1.4 million more votes than their Republican counterparts. Yet Republican candidates currently hold a 33-seat majority in the House, due in large part to the fact that Republican state legislatures controlled the redistricting process in several key states. Indeed, Republicans were so successful in their efforts to lock in their control of the House of Representatives through gerrymandering that Democratic House candidates would have needed to win the national popular vote by more than 7 percentage points in order to receive the barest majority in the House. Republicans aren’t particularly shy about touting the success of their gerrymanders either: The Republican State Leadership Committee released an extensive memo boasting about how they used gerrymanders to lock down GOP majorities in the House.

The impact of the current congressional maps is most profound in six key states. As explained above, President Obama did win Michigan by nearly 10 points, but Democratic candidates won only 5 of the state’s 14 congressional seats. Likewise, President Obama won Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin—in some cases by comfortable margins—but Republicans dominate the congressional delegations from these states.

[font size="3"] ... of course, you know what they will say when the apathetic electorate finally wakes up in 2016
realizing they just got royally screwed: "GET OVER IT!"

... just like after the Grand Theft Election 2000.[/font]

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The Right-Wing Money Putting John Stossel In School Classrooms

How The Right's "Dark Money ATM" Spent $1 Million On Stossel Educational Materials

{personally I think this crosses the line against promoting a specific reigion in public schools}


Two foundations that have been described as "the dark money ATM of the right" have spent more than $1 million combined funding a non-profit organization whose primary function is distributing libertarian education materials featuring Fox Business host John Stossel.

Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, the affiliated funding groups, were until recently obscure entities. But over the past month a series of reports have detailed how those organizations have paid out more than $400 million to over 1,000 conservative groups since their 1999 founding. Those reports have described how the two organizations have allowed wealthy individuals to discreetly underwrite trending conservative causes like climate change denial.

The groups have also been the primary funders behind an effort to flood American classrooms with packaged libertarian lessons branded with John Stossel's mustachioed face. In 2011, Donors Trust gave $540,000 to the Philadelphia-based Center for Independent Thought (CIT), with the funds earmarked for the distribution of "Stossel in the Classroom" teaching materials, according to IRS filings obtained by Mother Jones.

According to CIT's website, its mission is to "bring the ideas of liberty to freedom-loving people around the globe." They do so primarily through the distribution of free "Stossel in the Classroom" videos, DVDs and discussion guides, which the program claims are currently used by more than 150,000 teachers in middle school, high school, and college classrooms around the country.

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