FT126: “Class warfare is the lie that the 10% who pay 70% of all taxes aren’t paying their fair share.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 13th, 2012

Fundamental Truth

The Democrats like to Tax and Spend but their own Job-Killing Policies make this Hard to Do

The key of the Democrat Party platform is ignorance.  If it wasn’t for ignorance they couldn’t win elections today.  For their policies have been failures.  We’ve debunked Keynesian economics stimulus spending in the Seventies.  Their spending did not stimulate economic activity.  They only added high inflation onto high unemployment.  Creating the stagflation of the Seventies and the high misery index (inflation rate added to the unemployment rate). 

And their high marginal tax rates did not produce more tax revenue.  Because high tax rates have never encouraged economic activity.  Even those on the Left admit raising taxes during a recession is not a good thing.  And high tax rates don’t generate any new tax revenue when they cause overall economic activity to decline.  For we need both a tax rate and economic activity to generate tax revenue.  And having one without the other just isn’t going to do the job.

The Democrats like to tax and spend.  But their own policies make this hard to do.  Because their policies kill jobs.  And because they kill jobs they reduce tax revenue.  Fewer jobs and fewer people paying taxes (the unemployed don’t pay taxes) create a problem for tax and spend Democrats.  So they turn to increasing tax rates on the fewer remaining people who pay taxes.  Which is a difficult thing to do when you have to win elections.  Unless you lie.

The Top 10% of Income Earners Consistently Pay about 70% of all Federal Income Taxes

To win elections when your policies hurt the economy you need to transform the country.  You need to get a large percentage of the people dependent on government benefits.  While at the same time you need to change the tax code so these same people don’t pay any income taxes.  You do this and you make a very loyal constituency.  Who will always vote to raise other people’s taxes to increase their own benefits.  Of course, raising tax rates is not always easy.  So they have to add one more thing to the mix.  Class warfare.

Class warfare demonizes anyone who opposes these tax and spend policies.  By perpetuating a lie.  That the ‘rich’ don’t pay their fair share of taxes.  But when you look at the actual numbers, you find it is those who are NOT ‘rich’ that don’t pay their fair share (source:  National Taxpayers Union).

 

 The top 10% of income earners consistently pay about 70% of all federal income taxes.  While the bottom 50% pay less than 5% of all federal income taxes.  Falling as low as 2.25% of the tax total in 2009.  In 2009 those in the top 10% included everyone who earned $112,124 or more.  Which is interesting as we consider the rich to be like those movie stars earning on average of $30 million a year.  Not small business owners whose business earnings fall directly to their personal income tax returns.  Not everyone in this 10% are small business owners.  For it also includes those super rich movie stars.  But most small business owners fall in the top 10%.  And they as a group hire more people than any other business.  This is why higher taxes kill jobs. 

Public Education is in the Shape it is because it is Easier to Lie to the Ignorant

Assume a small business owner earns $200,000 in his or her business.  Putting them in the top 10%.  Based on the 2012 federal tax rates for a married couple filing jointly the federal income tax due is about $42,060.  Assuming state and city income taxes equal this federal tax amount leaves $115,881 after taxes for the small business owner to support his or her family.  And to invest in their business.  If this couple lives on $80,000 (which is only 0.267% of the income of the super rich movie star) this leaves only about $35,881 to invest into the business.  Which won’t even cover the cost of one new full-time employee’s wages, benefits and taxes.  Increasing taxes on this ‘rich’ 10% will leave even less money for small business owners to hire new employees.  Which is why increasing taxes on this 10% kills jobs.

This is, of course, why small business owners typically vote Republican.  Because the tax and spend policies of the Democrats hurt them very much.  Preventing them from hiring new employees.  And expanding their businesses.  Which is why the Democrats try to get as many people as possible collecting government benefits while paying no federal income taxes.  Because their policies have lost them the small business owners’ vote.  As well as those who work hard and don’t collect government benefits.  For if you work hard and pay taxes you’re not likely to vote to increase your own taxes.  However if you don’t pay taxes you probably will have no problem voting to raise taxes on those who do.

So this is why Democrats resort to class warfare.  And lie.  It’s all they have.  Which explains why public education is in the shape it is.  Because it is easier to lie to the ignorant.  Which is why public education emphasizes the evils of capitalism and the horrors of global warming.  Because teaching our students history and economics makes the lie harder to tell.  So they don’t.  Instead they teach them to become good Democrat voters.  Who believe the lie of class warfare.  That the top 10% of income earners who consistently pay about 70% of all federal income taxes don’t pay their fair share.

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Obama wants a Millionaire Tax to Pay for his Political Stimulus Bill and Shrink his Deficit

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 17th, 2011

Going Green is Just Another Excuse to Raise Taxes, Grow Government and Transfer more Wealth from the Private to the Public Sector

Big government has big ideas.  And big taxes to pay for them (see Crippling energy bills are YOUR fault, says Huhne as he claims families could treat themselves to a mini-break if they shopped around by Glen Owen and Jonathan Petre posted 9/17/2011 on the Daily Mail).

Utility price rises have pushed the average household energy bill to almost £1,300 a year, partly driven – as critics pointed out yesterday – by ‘green’ taxes imposed by Mr Huhne’s [Energy Secretary] department.

The stealth levies, introduced to fund Britain’s investment in wind and solar power, are costing families an average of £200 a year…

This represents an increase of between 15 and 20 per cent on the average domestic power bill. The money is being used to help fund the building of 10,000 wind turbines and the proposed installation of £7 billion worth of smart meters in homes.

To make your tomorrow better we will make your today worse.  You’re welcome.

Green energy may be good for the planet.  To combat ‘global warming’.  But it’s not good for your wallet.  Or purse.  And the kicker is this.  What kind of science is global warming based on?  Fraudulent science.  And if this doesn’t tell you why governments are pushing for green energy nothing will.

It’s about the money.  It always is.  And always was.  It’s another excuse to raise taxes.  To grow government.  And transfer more wealth from the private to the public sector.  So politicians can play god.  Which is something narcissists are wont to do.

Higher Tax Rates Discourage Growth, Deter Investment, Kill Jobs and Prolong Recessions

That was in the UK.  Over in the USA their government is going green, too.  Because there’s big money in going green.  They recently invested a half billion dollars in Solyndra.  President Obama visited the plant.  Vice President Joe Biden made a video clip praising those 1,000 new jobs.  That were permanent jobs.  And they were.  Right up to that mass layoff.  As the company went belly up this month.

But it was good while it lasted.  Throwing around such massive amounts of money.  Having the power to pick winners and losers.  It really strokes a narcissist’s ego.  Even if their winners turn out to be losers.  I mean, it’s not like they have to repay that half billion dollars.  They’ll just turn to the taxpayers for more taxes.  And blame the rich for not paying their fair share (see Obama Tax Plan Would Ask More of Millionaires by Jackie Calmes posted 9/17/2011 on The New York Times).

President Obama on Monday will call for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers, according to administration officials…

Mr. Obama, in a bit of political salesmanship, will call his proposal the “Buffett Rule,” in a reference to Warren E. Buffett, the billionaire investor who has complained repeatedly that the richest Americans generally pay a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than do middle-income workers, because investment gains are taxed at a lower rate than wages.

We should note, though, that it’s not the size of the rate that matters.  But the pile of money that it taxes.  Someone earning $60,000 a year with a top marginal tax rate of 25% may pay a puny $11,000 in taxes.  But someone with a 15% tax rate on an investment return of $40 million will pay an obscene $6 million in taxes.

Now, in case you’re not good with math.  Or you are a liberal Democrat.  Let me help.  $6 million is more than $11 thousand.  A lot more.  About 54,000% more.  The rich person may pay a lower tax rate.  But he or she pays more tax dollars.  Way more.

The rich pay more.  The less-rich pay less.  The rich pay for benefits.  The less-rich consume benefits.  We take money from the rich.  And give to the less-rich.  Sounds like redistribution of wealth, doesn’t it?  So you can see this is less about paying your fair share of taxes then it is about redistributing wealth.  To garner more votes come election time.

The Obama proposal has little chance of becoming law unless Republican lawmakers bend. But by focusing on the wealthiest Americans, the president is sharpening the contrast between Republicans and Democrats with a theme he can carry into his bid for re-election in 2012…

Mr. Obama’s proposed Buffett Rule puts a new spin on that pitch, as he tries to put Republicans in Congress and in the presidential race on the defensive for their rigid stand against higher taxes.

Using class warfare for the 2012 election.  Why?  Because he sure can’t run on his record.  For his record sucks.  His economic policies have been a disaster.  And are on track to put us back into recession.

So he will employ this ploy.  To make the Republicans look like heartless bastards.  Protecting their rich patrons.  While the rest of the nation suffers the ravishes of the Obama recession.  A recession Obama blames, of course, on George W. Bush.  That rich Texan oilman.  Despite that Recovery Summer in 2010.  When he, Barack Obama, ended the Bush recession.

Mr. Obama has been citing Mr. Buffett as he promotes his $447 billion job-creation plan. He proposes to offset the cost of that plan and reduce future budget deficits through higher taxes on the wealthy and on corporations after 2013, when the economy will presumably be healthier.

Ah, yes, his political stimulus bill.  That thing he calls the American Jobs Act.  Which no Congress person has yet to introduce into the House of Representatives.  Including no Democrat.  Which is telling.  Next year is an election year.  And the way this bill reeks of politics they want nothing to do with it.

Rich people invest their wealth.  They may buy corporate bonds.  Which will allow a business to grow.  Create jobs.  And you know nothing helps that process more than higher taxes.  You know, if you’re living in insanity land.

Higher tax rates don’t make economies healthier.  They make them sicker.  They discourage growth.  They deter investment.  They kill jobs.  And prolong recessions.  The economy will not be healthier in 2013.  Not with higher tax rates on the very people that can make it healthier.

Even Mr. Buffett probably paid a higher effective rate than he claimed, Mr. Mankiw [an economics professor at Harvard] added, because much of his income came from corporate income that had been taxed before it was paid out to individuals.

That’s right.  The money Mr. Buffet earns on his investment?  Uncle Sam already taxed it.  At the corporate income tax rate.  His tax is the second tax paid on those earnings.  Which begs the question how much is enough?  How much of our money is enough for the government?  And the answer is no matter what we pay it will never be enough.

The Danger of Raising Taxes on the Rich is that it doesn’t Address the Problem of Excessive Spending

We pay enough in taxes.  In fact, we pay too much.  The government is just spending too much.

The problem is baseline budgeting.  And tax and spend liberalism.  Not only are they spending a lot today but they will be spending even more tomorrow.  More programs.  More benefits.  Guaranteed.  At least they’re guaranteed as long as we continue to use baseline budgeting.  Where this year’s budget is last year’s budget plus more.  Automatically.

And this is the danger of raising taxes on the rich.  It doesn’t address the problem.  This excessive spending.  In fact it facilitates it.  Like an addiction.  Which means they will make this argument forever.  As they have forever.  The problem is this.  There will never be enough taxes.  Not to sustain continuous increases in spending.  Which we will always have.  As long as we continue to use baseline budgeting.  And continue to elect liberal Democrats.

If the current system favors the rich then here’s a novel idea.  Tax the less-rich at the rich tax rates.  Then everyone pays their ‘fair’ share.  But what about government you may ask.  How will they get by on less?  Well, that’s easy.  They can ask any one of us.  Because we’ve been doing it for years.

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Government as Usual, Making a Bad Financial Situation Worse

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 8th, 2011

The Federal Debt is Bad; what we’re Adding is Worse than can be Imagined

If you thought the debt was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet (see U.S. funding for future promises lags by trillions by Dennis Cauchon posted 6/7/2011 on USA Today).

The government added $5.3 trillion in new financial obligations in 2010, largely for retirement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. That brings to a record $61.6 trillion the total of financial promises not paid for.

This gap between spending commitments and revenue last year equals more than one-third of the nation’s gross domestic product.

The current outstanding U.S. debt is $14 trillion and change.  So, in addition to that debt, the U.S. has to borrow an additional $61.6 trillion sometime in the future.  Meanwhile they debate deficit reduction in Washington.  And the Obama administration is desperately trying to get the Republican-controlled House to raise the legal debt ceiling.  By a whopping $2.4 trillion.  You don’t have to be a whiz kid to see that something bad financially is coming this way.

Medicare alone took on $1.8 trillion in new liabilities, more than the record deficit prompting heated debate between Congress and the White House over lifting the debt ceiling.

Social Security added $1.4 trillion in obligations, partly reflecting longer life expectancies. Federal and military retirement programs added more to the financial hole, too.

It’s those social democracy things.  The same things that are bankrupting countries in the European Union.  Free health care.  And free pensions (with everyone living longer people are collecting far, far more than they ever paid into these programs).  Which just goes to show that free things are very expensive.

The $61.6 trillion in unfunded obligations amounts to $527,000 per household. That’s more than five times what Americans have borrowed for everything else — mortgages, car loans and other debt. It reflects the challenge as the number of retirees soars over the next 20 years and seniors try to collect on those spending promises.

Imagine yourself living as you are.  Working hard to pay your bills (mortgages, car loans and other debt).  And then adding another mortgage to the mix for a magnificent half-million dollar home.  Only without the home.  Just the mortgage payments.  If you’re not good at imagining that’s okay.  Because you’ll be living it within 20 years.  Can it get worse?

The government has promised pension and health benefits worth more than $700,000 per retired civil servant. The pension fund’s key asset: federal IOUs.

Why, yes.  It can.  While you struggle to pay these enormous bills you can think about this.  Your civil servants.  The people that work for you.  They will be making about $173,000 more in retirement than you.  Their boss.  That ought to put a smile on your face.  And a skip in your step.

Here Comes National Health Care

And it’s going to get worse.  Because national health care is coming (see Study Sees Cuts to Health Plans by Janet Adamy posted 6/8/2011 on The Wall Street Journal).

A report by McKinsey & Co. has found that 30% of employers are likely to stop offering workers health insurance after the bulk of the Obama administration’s health overhaul takes effect in 2014.

The findings come as a growing number of employers are seeking waivers from an early provision in the overhaul that requires them to enrich their benefits this year. At the end of April, the administration had granted 1,372 employers, unions and insurance companies one-year exemptions from the law’s requirement that they not cap annual benefit payouts below $750,000 per person a year.

But the law doesn’t allow for such waivers starting in 2014, leaving all those entities—and other employers whose plans don’t meet a slate of new requirements—to change their offerings or drop coverage.

Bill Clinton lost the 1994 midterm election because he campaigned as a moderate and governed as a liberal.  With Hillarycare being the poster child of his liberal agenda.  Barack Obama lost the 2010 midterm election because he campaigned as a moderate and governed as a liberal.  With Obamacare being the poster child of his liberal agenda.  The people spoke.  Then.  And now.  They don’t want national health care.  That’s why Hillarycare failed.  And why they watered Obamacare down to be something short of national health care.  But Obamacare will serve its purpose.  It will kill the private health insurance market.  Setting the stage once and for all for national health care in the United States.

In surveying 1,300 employers earlier this year, McKinsey found that 30% said they would “definitely or probably” stop offering employer coverage in the years after 2014. That figure increased to more than 50% among employers with a high awareness of the overhaul law.

The Obamacare legislation was something like a thousand pages long.  Guaranteed to confuse.  In fact, it was so confusing that Democrats voted for it without reading it.  Republicans read as much of it as they could.  And because they saw what was in it they voted against it.  Those who take the time to read it don’t like it.  Including the 50% of employers surveyed.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, in a March 2010 report, found that by 2019, about six million to seven million people who otherwise would have had access to coverage through their job won’t have it owing to the new law. That estimate represents about 4% of the roughly 160 million people projected to have employment-based coverage in 2019.

So let’s crunch some numbers.  Private insurers can’t cap benefits below $750,000 per person per year.  Some 6-7 million people will lose their insurance because of Obamacare.  So if the government has to pick up the costs for half of the lower amount (3 million) of these people consuming $750,000 each that comes to…$2.25 trillion.  That’s a lot.  Now let’s say the 160 million who have employment-based coverage lose it.  And that half of them need $750,000 in benefits.  That comes to…$60 trillion.  How about that?  That’s about the same as the amount of the government’s unfunded financial liabilities. 

So, in addition to the $14 trillion or so in debt, there may be another $120 trillion that we’ll have to borrow.  And that’s a little more than the $2.4 trillion the Obama administration is desperately trying to get the House to approve.  And warn about dire consequences if the Republicans refuse to do so.  This reminds me of that scene in Jaws where Chief Brody was throwing out that chum to attract the shark.  It worked.  The shark appeared.  Only it was a lot bigger than Brody thought it’d be.  He told Captain Quint, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”  Because fighting a $120 trillion debt with a $2.4 trillion dingy is going to lose the battle.  And by ‘lose the battle’ I mean the United States will end up like Greece.  Only without anyone big enough to bail her out.

OPEC not increasing Oil Production, no Help for Depressed Economies

That’s some pretty doleful news.  Maybe there’s a white knight rushing to the rescue.  Perhaps the economy will rebound and go gang busters.  Maybe the United States will grow itself out of this debt sinkhole (see OPEC Keeps Lid on Oil Production Targets by The Associated Press posted 6/8/2011 posted on The New York Times).

OPEC decided on Wednesday to maintain its crude oil output levels and meet again within three months to discuss a possible production increase.

The decision was unexpected and reflected unusual tensions in an organization that usually works by consensus.

Saudi Arabia and other influential oil-producing nations had pushed to increase production ceilings to calm markets and ease concerns that crude was overpriced for consumer nations struggling with their economies.

To quote a line from Planes, Trains and Automobiles, they have a better chance of playing pickup sticks with their butt cheeks.  The moratorium on oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico put pressure on supply.  Then the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa added more.  The recession had kept oil down for the last year or so.  But with supply being squeezed that wasn’t going to last.  It’s back up.  With an assist from Ben Bernanke.  Whose quantitative easing devalued the dollar and sparked some inflation.  For we buy and sell the world’s oil in U.S. dollars.  So consumer prices are up.  While high unemployment and flat wages continue to make life hard for the American consumer.

Those opposed were led by Iran, the second-strongest producer within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries…

Iran and Venezuela came to the meeting opposing any move to increase output, which would have probably lowered prices for benchmark crude from the present levels of around $100 a barrel.

But OPEC powerhouse Saudi Arabia, which favors prices of around $80 a barrel, wanted higher production levels — and served notice that it was prepared to raise production unilaterally, to close to 10 million barrels a day from its present daily production of about 8.7 million barrels.

How about that?  Our enemies want to keep the price of oil up.  While our friends want to bring it back down to $80 per barrel.  Yet the Obama administration demanded that Mubarak step down from power in Egypt (a move the Saudis did not like as Egypt was anti-Iran and kept a lid on radical Islam like the Muslim Brotherhood) while doing nothing to help the democracy movement in Iran.  And Obama himself has a close and personal relationship with the Venezuelan dictator.  Hugo Chavez.

Policies like these will do little to bring the price of oil down.  Or make the economy rebound and go gang busters.  So there’s little hope of the U.S. growing its way out of their unfunded financial obligations. 

Monetary Policy doing more Harm than Good

And it doesn’t help to have Big Government Keynesians trying to fix things (see Sizing up the Fed’s few options by Cyrus Sanati posted 6/8/2011 on CNNMoney).

At the time the Fed began its second round of quantitative easing, inflation was low, so Bernanke felt comfortable instituting a program that would see $600 billion injected into the economy. After all, how much inflation can $600 billion cause when the country has a national debt load of $14 trillion and a personal debt load of $30 trillion?

Inflation has jumped in the last three months at a much faster pace than historical averages. The consumer price index rose by 6.1% annually during the April quarter, and core CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose by 2%. Such an accelerated move in inflation would be explainable if there was strong economic growth, but that’s not the case.

Higher prices without economic growth.  We saw this in the Seventies.  Under Jimmy Carter.  His treasury secretary, Paul Volcker, raised rates to reduce inflation.  Interest rates soared.  But he tamed inflation.  And he didn’t do it with quantitative easing.  He did it by doing the exact opposite.  Bernanke could learn a lesson from Volcker.

“If you’re Bernanke and you are seeing this rapid acceleration in core inflation and a high unemployment rate, you got to be thinking to yourself, ‘Gee, my models aren’t working right,'” says Drew Matus, senior U.S. economist at UBS Investment Research. “This should cause more caution in the part of the Fed and it is this caution that will keep them from doing QE3.”

Yes.  The models don’t work.  They’ve never worked.  And never will.  Because monetary policy is not the be all and end all of economic activity.  Think of it this way.  Say there is a restaurant not doing well.  The Keynesian would help that restaurant with monetary policy.  It would lower prices on the menu.  To make the menu items cheaper (like making money cheaper to borrow from a bank).  The only problem is that this restaurant has problems.  People aren’t going there.  The food is bad, the service is poor and it’s dirty.  Lowering the menu prices isn’t going to fix those problems.  So lowering prices is not going to bring the people back.  Just as making money cheap to borrow won’t bring the consumers back to the market.

People need Disposable Income and Responsible Government

Unemployment is high.  A lot of people have no jobs.  Or disposable income.  Meanwhile, prices are going up.  Leaving even less disposable income.  Businesses aren’t going to borrow cheap money to hire people to expand production.  Because current production levels are already in excess of current demand.

People need disposable income.  Inflation is taking that money away from the people.  And two things are driving inflation.  High oil prices (demand greater than supply).  And bad monetary policy (a devalued dollar increases the price of oil and everything else).  We need to fix these things.  We need to drill.  We need to increase American production of oil.  And we need to stop printing money.  We need to do these two things ASAP.

Then we need to address the insanity of spending money we don’t have.  And stop it.  Sooner or later, we have to address entitlements.  Actually, later may no longer be an option.  With $60 trillion in unfunded liabilities in the pipeline.  And with Obamacare potentially adding another $60 trillion.  That’s just too much.  Trying to pay this will kill economic activity.  It will require more taxes, more borrowing and more printing.  Everyone of which will increase the cost of doing business or investing.  Which will ultimately kill jobs.  Giving people even less disposable income.

Benjamin Franklin warned, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”  That’s why they designed the republic to have disinterested, responsible people between the treasury and the people.  But that was then.  When disinterested, responsible people were in government.  Perhaps not everyone, but enough to keep the republic solvent.  Today most serve themselves.  The treasury is just a tool to buy votes.  And to hell with the consequences because most of them will be dead by the time the republic ends.

So don’t expect them to do the right thing anytime soon.  Because doing the right thing will not make their lives better.  Only ours.

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