The Poor and Middle Class see their Incomes Still Falling in the Obama Recovery

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 3rd, 2013

Week in Review

If you listen to the president, his press secretary, the mainstream media and just about anyone on the political left the economy is doing super.  Sure, we can make improvements.  But over all everything is just swell.  If you’re rich, that is. People with money are doing very well in the Obama recovery.  Those who aren’t as rich aren’t.  No.  All they see is high unemployment, rising prices and falling incomes (see Americans see biggest monthly income drop in 20 years by Annalyn Kurtz posted 3/1/2013 on CNNMoney).

Personal income decreased by $505.5 billion in January, or 3.6%, compared to December (on a seasonally adjusted and annualized basis). That’s the most dramatic decline since January 1993, according to the Commerce Department.

It’s something of a combination of one-time events, though.

Monthly income was unusually high in December because companies paid out early dividends to avoid upcoming tax hikes.

Further proof that people change their behavior when the government increases taxes.  The surge in December that made January look so bad was due to one-time distributions of profits to avoid higher taxes.  So December wasn’t that good, either.  Just an aberration as people tried to avoid the higher taxes coming their way.

The payroll tax cut’s expiration also played a role in January’s drop, because most workers have to pay 2 percentage points more in taxes this year…

Meanwhile, economists are closely watching consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of the U.S. economy…

Economists think that rising gas prices in February could cut into consumer spending temporarily. Gas prices rose 10% in February, according to AAA, but are expected to fall in coming weeks…

The Social Security tax break helped consumers at the 2012 election.  Allowing them more disposable income in the year before the election.  And helping them feel things weren’t that bad.  Of course this Social Security tax holiday drew down the Social Security surplus to a dangerous low.  Something they will have to make up for with even higher taxes than the 2% temporary cut used to help the president’s reelection.

Regulatory costs, environmental policies that have shut down oil drilling on public lands and inflation (the incessant quantitative easing of the Fed putting more and more dollars into circulation) are keeping gas prices high.  For you can hide inflation in some consumer goods by reducing package sizes but you can’t do that with gasoline.  Because you sell gas by the gallon.  So the full cost of the Fed’s inflationary policies hit gas prices hard.  And, of course, high gas prices increases prices for everything else that uses fuel.  A large factor in the rise in our grocery bills.  Taking a bigger bite out of family budgets.  Leaving little for other consumer spending.

All of that said, consumers are benefiting from a housing recovery and rising stock prices…

They’re not able to save much, though. On average, people saved about 2.4% of their disposable income in January, down from 6.4% in December. That marks the smallest saving rate since November 2007.

Rich people are benefitting from the housing ‘recovery’ and stock prices.  Those who have a lot of money left over after meeting the living expenses.  Who can save a lot of money.  And invest it into housing.  Or stocks.  In fact, that’s why the stock market does well on news of the Fed continuing their quantitative easing.  For the rich are taking advantage of that cheap money to borrow it.  So they can invest it.  Trading on the interest.  Borrowing at low interest rates.  And investing in something that earns a higher rate of return.  People struggling to make their paycheck buy everything it once did as prices rise everywhere aren’t enjoying any benefits from that cheap money.  As they have no money left over to even save up a down payment on a house.  So they can take advantage of those low housing prices.  No.  The poor and middle class are not reaping anything in the current economic ‘recovery’.  Only the rich are.

Under President Obama the rich are getting richer.  And the poor are getting poorer.  Because of his economic policies.  Especially the Keynesian policies.  Keynesians look at personal savings as leaks out of the economy.  For if people aren’t spending money they are wasting money.  Which is the point of low interest rates.  To get people to borrow money to buy things.  Thus stimulating economic activity.  And generating more consumer spending.  But all that quantitative easing has raised prices so much that consumers are left with less and less money to spend.  The poor and middle class aren’t borrowing money to buy new houses.  They’re just trying to get by on what little they have.  Hoping for good economic times to return when their personal incomes rise once again.

Keynesian economics don’t work.  Just as Keynesian stimulus does not stimulate.  If it did we wouldn’t still have fewer jobs in the U.S. economy than when President Obama took office.  And he spent about $8000 billion on a stimulus bill.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  Some critics said it failed as an $8000 billion stimulus wasn’t big enough.  Even though the Obama administration declared the summer of 2010 the Recovery Summer.  Proof that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 restored economic prosperity.  Even though it didn’t.  For things still haven’t returned to where they were under George W. Bush.  Despite 4 years of Keynesian policies.  That haven’t raised personal incomes.  The true measure of any economic recovery.  And when personal incomes are the lowest they’ve been in 20 years, there hasn’t been any economic recovery.  Despite $800 billion in stimulus.  And 4 years of President Obama’s Keynesian economic policies.

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Off-Budget Social Security Surplus

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 18th, 2013

Economics 101

Because we have Limited Income we Prioritize our Expenses

We all want more than we can afford.  We may want to drive a brand new Lincoln MKT but can only afford a used Focus.  So we drive a used Focus.  We may want to live on the beach in Southern California but can only afford a 2-bedroom apartment in Pasadena.  So we live in a 2-bedroom apartment in Pasadena.  We may want to dine on filet mignon and champagne every night but can only afford Hamburger Helper and a store-brand soda.  So we dine on Hamburger Helper and store-brand soda.

In life we have to make choices.  And live within our means.  So we budget our money. We list all our income.  And all of our expenses.  Breaking down the expenses in order of importance.  Rent is more important than cable television.  The electric bill is more important than stopping at Starbucks every morning for a Venti Caramel Macchiato.  The gas bill is more important than unlimited texting.  Because we have limited income we prioritize our expenses.  Those most important we budget to pay first.  Those less important we enjoy when we have some disposable income left over.  After paying everything that is more important first.

This is responsible living.  Which a lot of people do.  Live responsibly.  While some don’t.  And use credit cards to buy things they can’t afford.  Or they do a little work on the side ‘under the table’ for some extra spending cash.  Money they don’t report as income so they don’t have to pay income taxes on it.  Because like Billy Joel said you can pay Uncle Sam for the overtime.  Or not.  And a lot of people choose not.  Interestingly, a lot who do are die-hard Democrats who want to raise tax rates on the rich.  But when it comes to their hard-earned money they want to hide it from Uncle Sam.  But I digress.

Social Security Taxes are Dedicated for One Thing—Social Security Benefits

We can call money we earn on the side off-budget money.  We don’t add this money to our household budget.  It’s special money to spend on things we enjoy.  For if a husband does some plumbing work on the side his wife may want to use that money to pay down a credit card balance.  Or spend it on new window treatments.  While he may have other ideas for that money.  Maybe some new fishing equipment.  Or a new power tool.  Or maybe using it to go tailgating with the boys.  That money could buy a lot of food to barbecue.  And a lot of beer.  Things that are a lot of fun.  While paying down a credit card balance is not.  Just as window treatments are not.

So by keeping this money off-budget he can use it for what he originally intended it for.  Him having fun.  Keeping the money off the family budget prevents anyone from using those targeted funds for some other unintended purpose.  Preventing out of control spending growth on other less important things.  He is actually doing the family a favor by hiding this money.  Or so he rationalizes.  Because hiding it prevents his family from spending too much money.  For let’s face it if you have that additional money you’re going to budget it on something.  You may even commit to some long-term spending obligation.  Like buying a new Lincoln MKT.  Which will be a problem if the husband throws out his back doing all of those side jobs and goes on disability.

Another example of off-budget money is Social Security.  Specifically, the Social Security surplus.  Contrary to the government calling it a retirement investment it is not an investment.  The government collects Social Security tax revenue.  And pays Social Security benefits from that tax revenue.  What’s left over is the Social Security surplus.  (Until it becomes the Social Security deficit.)  And they put it into the Social Security Trust Fund.  Outside of the regular budget.  So they can’t spend it on other things.  And any budget negotiations won’t affect it.  For employers and employees pay into Social Security.  And this is the money we get back in benefits.  Those benefits are not budget items paid from all the other taxes the government collects.  That pay for things from defense spending to food stamps.  No.  Social Security taxes are dedicated for one thing.  Social Security benefits.  Which is why they moved it off-budget.

If the Deficit is Consistently Understated there will be no Money to Redeem the Securities in the Social Security Trust Fund

But that doesn’t stop the government from spending that money.  Just like so many unions have underfunded pension plans so, too, government can’t resist the allure of a great big pile of money.  Because it’s just sitting there.  Not being spent.  Something that just pains a politician to no end.  Unspent money.  But because it’s off-budget they just can’t spend it.  They have to borrow it first.  So the money goes into the Social Security Trust Fund.  They then remove the money from Social Security Trust Fund.  And leave behind an IOU.  Treasury securities.  Backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.

So even though that money is dedicated for Social Security benefits and is strictly hands-off for other spending the government spends it on other things.  And it works out pretty well for the government.  Not only do they get a little extra money to spend it helps conceal the extent of their other spending.  For this off-budget money decreases the budget deficit.  Caused by all of that on-budget spending.  That far exceeds their ability to pay for it.  To illustrate that see the following table.  This is a very simplified fictional federal budget.  We have tax receipts.  And federal outlays.  Broken down into two general categories.  Guns and butter.  That’s defense spending.  And everything else.  Note how if they leave the Social Security surplus alone (without) there is a deficit of 47%.  But if they borrow that money (with) it reduces the deficit to 10%.

Social Security Surplus Off-Budget

When they talk about the budget deficit it includes the Social Security surplus.  That money is dedicated for one thing.  Social Security benefits.  They’re not suppose to use it for anything else.  So they shouldn’t count this revenue in the budget that pays for everything else.  When they do they understate the true budget deficit.  Worse, the money in the Social Security Trust Fund does not earn a return on investment.  Like with a 401(k).  Yes, there are Treasury securities in the trust fund.  But a government that is consistently understating their true deficit will never have the money to redeem those securities.  So they will do the only thing they can.  Print money.  Which is what they mean by the full faith and credit of the United States.  Print money.  Causing inflation.  And raising prices.  Making that meager Social Security benefit buy less.  Not to mention that Social Security itself will soon be insolvent.  Thanks to the growth in all of that other spending.  That is growing so great that they continually need to raid the Social Security Trust Fund to pay for it.

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Abortion and Birth Control are Bankrupting Social Security and Medicare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 20th, 2013

Week in Review

For the first time in history a credit reporting agency (Standard and Poor’s) downgraded the U.S bond rating in 2011.  Why?  The agency said they needed to see $4 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years.  The best Congress could do was $917 billion in spending cuts over 10 years.  And the creation of a super-committee to find another $1.5 trillion.  For a total of $2.417 trillion in spending cuts.  At least, on paper.  That never happened.  After winning reelection the president held out for and got increases in tax rates.  So he could increase spending.

So how did the U.S. get to where they needed to cut $4 trillion in spending?  Well, a large part of it has to do with abortion (see 55,772,015 Abortions in America Since Roe vs. Wade in 1973 by Steven Ertelt posted 1/18/2013 on LifeNews.com).

The United States marks 40 years of legalized abortion in all fifty states at any time for any reason throughout pregnancy on January 22nd, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Since that time, there have been approximately 55,772,015 abortions that have destroyed the lives of unborn children.

Taxpayers pay taxes.  And how do we get taxpayers?  By having babies.  So when we aborted over 55 million babies the effect on tax revenue was profound.  We can see how by making some assumptions.  And doing a little math.

First of all, 55,772,015 abortions over 39 years come to on average 1,430,052 abortions a year.  Dividing this number by two to pair off couples for baby-making that comes to 715,026 couples.  Without abortion available we’ll assume about 80% of these couples will have children.

The first babies of the 715,026 enter the workforce 20 years later.  So in that year the number of additional workers paying taxes equals 2,002,072 (1,430,052 + (0.8 X 715,026)).  The following year the second child of this couple enters the workforce while another couple’s first child enters the workforce.  This brings the additional workers paying taxes equal 3,146,114.  And so on until each couple brings in three new taxpayers into the workforce. Over a decade the number of new workers paying taxes equals 110,685,999.

Assuming a median income of $50,000 these 110,685,999 taxpayers earn a total of $5.5 trillion over ten years.  Assuming an effective federal income tax rate of 18% the total federal income tax these people would have paid equals approximately $996 billion.

Using the 12.4% Social Security tax rate (both employer and employee) the amount of Social Security taxes these people would have provided over 10 years equals approximately $686 billion.

Using the 2.9% Medicare tax rate the amount of Medicare taxes these people would have provided over 10 years equals approximately $160 billion.

Adding these taxes together (Social Security and Medicare) they add up to $847 billion.  Adding this to the amount of federal income taxes brings the amount of taxes these people would have provided over ten years to about $1.8 trillion.

When they wrote Social Security and Medicare into law the average family size had fallen from around 5 to about 3.5 over a decade or so.  If you take that $1.8 trillion and adjust it for 3.5 children (1.8/3 X 3.5) the lost tax revenue equals $2.15 trillion.  At 4 children that lost tax revenue comes to $2.5 trillion.  At 5 children that lost tax revenue comes to $3.1 trillion.  At 6 children it’s $3.7 trillion.

Today’s seniors entered child-bearing age long before women’s liberation, birth control and abortion.  So most women got married and had children.  It is not uncommon for today’s seniors to come from families of 10 children or more.  This is significant because when the actuaries set up Social Security and Medicare they assumed these trends would continue.  But they didn’t.  The birth rate (and the population growth rate) declined since Social Security and Medicare became law.  Causing the population to age.  More people are now leaving the workforce and collecting Social Security and Medicare benefits than there are workers entering the workforce to pay for them.

Abortion has been a part of this decline.  In a current 10-year projection we are seeing anywhere from $1.8 trillion to $3.7 trillion in lost tax revenue due to abortion.  If Roe v. Wade didn’t legalize abortion and the Left didn’t assault the family (encouraging women NOT to get married or have children) during the Seventies as radical feminism took off there would have been a lot more births.  Perhaps as many as those actuaries thought there would be when they calculated the costs of Social Security and Medicare.

If normal family patterns had continued not only would these abortions not have happened families may have had more children.  Producing more taxpayers.  There were 3,136,965 live births in 1973.  The average family size then was about 2.5.  If you divide the number of births by average family size you get about 1,254,786 families having children.  If each of these families had one additional child that additional 1,254,786 children would be approximately 87.7% of the average number of abortions.  If these children grew up to have three children of their own we can calculate this additional tax revenue the same way we did for the loss revenue from abortion.  Or we can multiply the loss revenue from abortion ($1.8 trillion) by 87.7% to approximate what those additional children in 1973 would contribute in a ten-year projection today.  Approximately $1.9 trillion.  Adding the losses from abortion and families having one less child brings the total of loss tax revenue to $4.04 trillion.  Which equals the $4 trillion S&P was looking for in spending cuts.

So what is the cause for America’s deficits?   Is it because the rich aren’t paying their fair share in taxes?  No.  It’s because of abortion and birth control.  And radical feminism.  That attacked the family and encouraged women to do anything but get married and have children.  Something FDR and his New Dealers never designed Social Security and Medicare to take into account.  For FDR and his New Dealers were sexists.  As are Social Security and Medicare.  These programs require women to marry and have children to stay solvent.

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