France tried the President Obama Balanced Approach to Deficit Reduction only to see it Fail

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 1st, 2013

Week in Review

All we heard during the debt ceiling debate and the sequester debate from President Obama is that we must have a balanced approach.  Tax hikes now.  And spending cuts later.  Which, of course, means no spending cuts.  Ever.  For why would they cut spending after they got their tax hikes?  Too many Republicans got snookered by past Democrats on that false promise.

President Obama assures us that if we raise tax rates it will solve all of our problems.  But if we cut spending that’s just stupid.  Because government spending creates economic activity.  According to the Keynesian economics playbook, at least.  And President Obama is a Keynesian.  In fact, he’s so much a Keynesian that some would even call him a socialist.  But Keynesian economics hasn’t worked in America.  It didn’t work in the 1970s.  It gave us a dot-com bubble in the 1990s.  And the beginning of the real estate bubble that burst into the subprime mortgage crisis in the 2000s.  So we’ve tried Keynesian economics and it doesn’t work.  And, as it turns out, Keynesian economics that borders on outright socialism doesn’t work either (see France signals shift to tax cuts in boost to business by AFP posted 9/1/2013 on France 24).

France’s Socialist government is hinting it may appease discontent at tax rises by putting more stress on spending cuts in its fight to control the budget and boost growth…

France has so far relied on tax hikes for about two-thirds of its fiscal adjustment. Most famously it hiked the tax rate to 75 percent on income above 1 million euros.

The reliance on tax hikes has also prompted warnings from the IMF and European Commission that it should focus more on cutting spending in order to avoid snuffing out the recovery…

France’s social welfare system is funded primarily by charges on labour, burdening businesses…

A threat to nationalise a French plant owned by steel giant Arcelor Mittal to protect jobs raised concerns among foreign businesses…

The latest purchasing managers surveys by Markit found that while business activity is picking up in the eurozone overall, it contracted at a faster rate in France this month.

Francois Hollande has been president since May 15, 2012.  That’s about one year and three months.  And in that time his socialist government raised taxes.  But barely cut spending.  Just as President Obama wants to do to reduce the U.S. budget deficit.  Despite the fact that it doesn’t work.  As France has proven.

The U.S. doesn’t have to try the President Obama way.  The balanced approach.  AKA, the all tax and no spending-cut approach.  Because France has tried it in a grand way only to see it fail.  It failed so badly that they’re talking about outright socialism.  Nationalizing industry.  Because the economic climate is so anti-business in France that there is no job creation.  Because there is no business growth.  Worse, the French economy is contracting.  That’s right, while the rest of the Eurozone is seeing growth France’s economy is going deeper into recession.  Because they’re doing what President Obama wants to do in the U.S.

It’s time we purge Keynesian economics from our governments for good.  It is the source of all the great financial problems countries are having all around the world.  All it does is empower those in power.  Elevating them to elite positions.  Where they enjoy a life of plenty and extreme comfort.  While their people struggle to provide for their families.  It’s time that we return to classical economics.  Save our money and live frugally.  Creating private investment capital from our savings via a sound banking system.  Where bankers practice good lending practices without governments passing their risks onto the taxpayers.  Which is what gave us the subprime mortgage crisis.  And the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Finally, governments have to spend less.  So we can cut tax rates.  Providing the spark to ignite private investment.  Which drives business expansion.  And creates jobs.  Which is what people want.  So they can provide for their families.  Not more benefits that the government can’t pay for.  No matter how high the government taxes them.

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President Obama has a Lot in Common with the Social Democracy Ideology of the NDP

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 13th, 2013

Week in Review

The New Democratic Party (NDP) of British Columbia is a social-democratic political party.  Their political ideology is Social democracy.  And the Social democracy political ideology is to transform capitalism into socialism through progressive social reform.  And they do that with higher taxes and wealth redistribution.  In fact, the current NDP leader in British Columbia has pledged to raise taxes should they win the coming election (see NDP promises tax hikes if elected by Bryn Weese, QMI Agency, posted 4/11/2013 on Vancouver 24 hrs).

Corporations, banks, polluters and the wealthy will pay more if the BC NDP wins the provincial election.

The party’s fiscal plan, unveiled at Simon Fraser University Thursday, calls for: a one point rise in the corporate tax rate from 11% to 12%, reinstating a 3% bank tax, expanding the carbon tax to include vented oil and gas emissions, and raising the personal income tax rate to 19% on incomes over $150,000 a year.

The party, if elected, also plans to run the same $800 million deficits it alleges the ruling BC Liberals are hiding. In total, the NDP would run nearly $2 billion in deficits over the next three years until the party, it says, would balance the budget in year four of a NDP government.

“We’re looking at those who have a little more to give a little more,” NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston told reporters…

The fiscal plan is a broad look at how the NDP will pay for its election platform, which will be detailed during the campaign. On Thursday, the party promised a childcare and early-education plan and a poverty-reduction strategy.

Earlier this week, NDP Leader Adrian Dix proposed increasing the tax credits for TV and film productions in the province to 40% of labour costs.

Sound familiar?  It sounds a lot like what you hear coming out of Washington.  For the Obama administration wants to tax corporations, banks, polluters and the wealthy more.  In fact they’ve used the same language.  “We’re looking at those who have a little more to give a little more.”  The Obama administration is running deficits.  President Obama even talked about expanding funds for childcare so children as young as 4 years old can receive state indoctrination.  I mean, early developmental skills.  The Obama administration has a poverty-reduction strategy.  They call it food stamps.  Some have even called him the food stamp president because more people than ever use food stamps.  And the Obama administration as a special relationship with TV and film production.  He even changed his stance on same-sex marriage in exchange for more Hollywood campaign donations.

So what does this mean?  Does it mean that President Obama is a Social democrat, too?  Because he shares the same political ideology of the NDP?  Social democracy?  Does this mean President Obama wants to transform capitalism into socialism through progressive social reform?  Of course not.  Just because it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it doesn’t mean President Obama is a socialist-leaning anti-capitalist.  It’s just a coincidence that he looks like, walks like and quacks like a socialist-leaning anti-capitalist.

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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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FT150: “The Left wants to extend tax hikes down to those earning $250,000 because there are just too few rich people to tax.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 29th, 2012

Fundamental Truth

If you Confiscated ALL Income from those Earning a Million+ it would be Less than HALF of the Average Obama Deficit

The fiscal cliff yadda yadda yadda the Democrats want to raise taxes and the Republicans’ mothers are whores.  That about summarizes the fiscal cliff negotiations.  The Democrats want to raise taxes.  The Republicans don’t because there is nothing that will kill off an economic recovery quicker than raising taxes.  And the Democrats are mean.  Calling the Republicans a lot of names.  And saying things about them that aren’t very nice.  So once again let’s look at the numbers to see what they say about federal income taxes.  The following numbers come from the IRS (see Table 3.  Number of Individual Income Tax Returns, Income, Exemptions and Deductions, Tax, and Average Tax, by Size of Adjusted Gross Income, Tax Years 2001-2010).

The Democrats keep saying that the Republicans want tax cuts for the rich paid for by the poor.  But according to these numbers that’s just not happening.  People who earned $15,000 or less paid 0.0% of all federal income taxes.  People who earned $30,000 or less paid less than 1% of all federal income taxes.  It’s the meaty center that paid the taxes.  Those who earned from $75,000 to $1 million submitted approximately 20.5% of all federal tax returns while they paid approximately 62.9% of all federal income taxes.

Now how about those rich people?  Those earning $1 million or more submitted approximately 0.19% of all tax returns.  Less than a quarter of one percent.  And yet they paid approximately 21.9% of all income taxes.  Is that fair?  At these high levels of income people pay basically the top marginal tax rate as only a very small fraction of their earnings falls outside this top rate.  So if we divide the total taxes paid by this 0.18% ($207 billion) by 0.35 (the 2010 top marginal tax rate) you get a total income of $590 billion.  So if you confiscated ALL of their earnings it would be less than HALF of the average Obama deficit ($1.324 trillion).  Meaning that it is IMPOSSIBLE to reduce the deficit with any tax rate on those earning $1 million or more.

The Rich may be paying Lower Tax Rates but they’re paying Far More Tax Dollars than most of Us

All right, so it won’t reduce the deficit.  But the Democrats say we must do this to be fair.  Meaning those earning more should pay more even if it’s only symbolic.  To punish success.  As if they’re not being punished already for their success.  We’ve all heard about Warren Buffet’s secretary paying a larger tax rate than he pays.  But talking percentages isn’t the same as talking dollars.  Because a small percentage on a much larger earnings amount will produce more tax revenue than a higher tax rate on a smaller earnings amount.  So let’s look at dollar amounts to see if the rich are paying their fair share.  Or whether we’re punishing them enough for their success.

The rich paid a smaller percentage of their earnings in taxes but paid far more in actual dollar amounts.  Which is the only thing that allows government to pay for things.  Dollars.  Let’s assume Warren Buffet’s secretary falls into the income range $50,000 to $75,000.  Who paid on average $4,310.92 in federal income taxes.  Now compare this to what rich people paid in income taxes.  Those earning from $1 million to $1.5 million paid on average $306,779 in federal income taxes.  Or more than 71 times what someone earning $50,000 to $75,000 paid.  Those earning $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 paid 102 times more than that lower income earner.  Those earning $2,000,000 to $5,000,000 paid 179 times more than that lower income earner.  Those earning $5,000,000 to $10,000,000 paid 407 times more than that lower income earner.  Those earning $10 million or more paid 1,389 times more than that lower income earner.

The rich may be paying lower tax rates but they’re paying far more tax dollars than most of us.  An inordinate amount.  If you look at it in terms of government services people consume (which is what taxes pay for) are those earning $10 million or more consuming 1,389 times the government services those earning $50,000 to $75,000 consume?  No.  If anything, they consume far less government services than most people.  Because they live the good life.  The good life their high earnings provide.  Being that the rich are paying far more than their fair share you can only conclude then that these excessive taxes are punitive.  To punish their success.

The only way to Achieve Real Deficit Reduction is to Increase Taxes on the Middle Class or Cut Spending

So what can we conclude?  The rich are paying more than their fair share of taxes.  The amount of tax dollars they’re paying could even qualify as being punitive.  As they are so great any further increase in rates on the rich is not likely to increase tax revenue.  First of all as they are already paying so much they will take every tax shelter advantage they can to minimize the further confiscation of their earnings.  But more important than that is that there are just so few rich people.  Even though the rich pay on average hundreds of times more in federal income taxes than that meaty center it’s the meaty center where most of the tax revenue comes from.  Because there are so many more people in the meaty center.  And by graphing the number of tax returns from each income bracket and the amount of tax revenue they pay we can understand why the Democrats are so adamant to raise taxes on those earning as little as $250,000.

The blue line (Series 1) is the number of tax returns filed in thousands of people for each income bracket (the left vertical axis).  The red line (Series 2) is the total tax revenue in millions of dollars each income bracket produces (the right vertical axis).  You can see the meaty center of tax revenue (from those earning $75,000 to $1 million).  And you can see the meaty center of those filing tax returns (form those earning $30,000 to $200,000).  As you can see the meaty center of tax filers and tax payers are not the same.  As the tax code shifts the tax burden onto the higher income earners.  And in this chart we can see why the Democrats want to increase tax rates on those earning $250,000 and more.

The drawback to progressive tax rates is that it shifts the tax burden onto fewer people.  Who must pay more in taxes than is their fair share.  And that worked for awhile until government grew so large.  But as our aging population has increased the costs of Medicare and Social Security (and soon Obamacare) there just aren’t enough rich people to tax to pay these soaring costs.  And they will have no choice but to shift the tax revenue graph to lower income people.  So they can capture more people (and incomes) under this graph.  Yes, they want to tax the rich more.  But only for the symbolism.  For once they’ve punished them by forcing them to pay their ‘fair’ share then they can raise tax rates on everyone else.  Which is the only way they have a snowball’s chance in hell of achieving real deficit reduction.  Increasing taxes on the middle class.  Well, that, or cutting spending.  Which could provide serious deficit reduction.  By shrinking the size of government. The very cause of those massive deficits.  And accumulated debt.  But shrinking government is, of course, crazy talk for those on the Left.  Who would rather let the country sink into insolvency before agreeing to that.

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FT146: “A Democrat promise to cut spending is as good as a promise from Lucy that she’ll let Charlie Brown kick that football.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 30th, 2012

Fundamental Truth

Tax and Spend Democrats have given us the Financial Crisis we call Taxmageddon or the Fiscal Cliff

Democrats like to spend money.  Earning the moniker tax and spend liberals/Democrats.  And what money they can’t tax away from the taxpayers they borrow.  And what they can’t borrow they print.  They beg, borrow, steal, tax and print as much money as they can.  Because they can never raise enough money to spend.

To help them in their insatiable appetite to spend they make spending promises that the state can never fulfill.  Creating one financial crisis after another.  Creating an urgency to raise taxes.  And debt limits.  Or else face bankruptcy.  And the inability for the U.S government to pay their debt obligations.  Lowering the U.S. sovereign debt rating.  Much like Standard and Poor’s did in 2011.  Something that we must avoid at all costs.  That is, something we must avoid from happening again at all costs.  And those costs are typically higher taxes and ever more debt.

Guess what?  We have another crisis.  It’s got a couple of names.  Taxmageddon.  And the fiscal cliff.  The expiration of the Bush tax cuts.  And massive spending cuts.  Because Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on a deal to reduce the deficit they agreed to sequestration.  Automatic spending cuts that will gut entitlements and defense spending.  All in a vain attempt to balance the budget.  Like politicians have been saying we must do for the last three decades or so.  But never do.  In fact our politicians have done the exact opposite.  They’ve increased spending.  So much so that we now are at a fiscal cliff.

Republicans are Hapless Sad Sacks when Negotiating a Spending Cut/New Tax Deal with Democrats

A recurring joke on the children’s cartoon Peanuts is how Lucy makes a fool of poor old Charlie Brown.  She continually promises to hold the football for him to kick.  Even though every other time she has promised this she pulled the ball away just before Charlie could kick it.  Sending him flying up into the air and falling flat on his back.  Making a fool of himself.  Bringing a big smile to Lucy’s face.  As it amuses her that Charlie is so foolish to fall for this trick time and again.  But she promises that this time he can trust her.  So she uses lies and manipulation to get Charlie to believe her.  And he goes running at that football.  Determined to finally kick it.  Only to have her pull the ball away again.  Sending him flying up into the air and falling flat on his back.  Again.

Sound familiar?  Kind of sounds like pretty much every spending cuts/tax deal ever brokered by the Democrats.  Who look at the Republicans with that ‘Lucy’ smile on their face.  Incredulous that they can get away by making the same old promises that they never keep.  Getting what they want, modest tax hikes now, in exchange for generous spending cuts later.  And just like that classic song in Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music the Republicans keep asking when is later?  Just like poor Henrik.  Who epitomizes the Republicans when it comes to spending cut negotiations with Democrats.  Who are always told those spending cuts will come later.

Later…

When is later?

All you ever hear is “Later, Henrik, Henrik, later.”

Substitute ‘the Republicans’ for the sad sack ‘Henrik’ and this can be a song about Republicans.

How can I wait around for later?

I’ll be ninety on my deathbed

And the late, or, rather, later, Henrik Egerman.

Doesn’t anything begin?

Poor Henrik.  As hapless as Republicans in a spending cuts/new tax deal they negotiate with Democrats.

The Democrats look at the Republicans like they are all Charlie Brown

George Herbert Walker Bush made a deal with Democrats.  Even reneged on his famous ‘read my lips, no new taxes’ pledge.  He agreed to $1 in new taxes for every $2 in later spending cuts.  Those tax hikes were quick to go into law.  While we’re still waiting for those later spending cuts.  Ronald Reagan made even a grander deal with Democrats.  $3 in later spending cuts for every $1 in new taxes.  The Democrats were quick to enact those new taxes.  But we’re still waiting on those later spending cuts.  Reagan went to his deathbed at 93 still waiting for those later spending cuts.  He waited for later to come.  But later never came.  As promised later spending cuts never, ever, begin.

For when it comes to promised spending cuts Democrats are like Lucy.  With that snarky smile.  Making the same promises that they’ve made so many times before.  Promises they never keep.  And have no intention of ever to start keeping them.  Laughing to themselves that they can get Republicans time and again to believe their same empty promises.

They look at the Republicans like they are all Charlie Brown.  They have no respect for them.  They lie to them at will.  Say whatever it takes to get their way.  Making promises they have no intention of keeping.  Promising George H.W. Bush $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in new taxes.  Promising Ronald Reagan $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in new taxes.  Both lies.  And now President Obama is saying that any deal to avoid Taxmageddon or the fiscal cliff must include both spending cuts and new taxes.  As if they are not Lucy.  But we all know that they are Lucy.  For any deal including later spending cuts for new taxes will see the Republicans on their deathbed at 90 still waiting for the Democrats to deliver on those spending cuts.  And just when they think they will Lucy will pull that football away.  Again.  Making the Republicans look like fools once again.

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California finding it more Difficult to Pass On the High Cost of Union Contracts to the Taxpayers

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 5th, 2012

Week in Review

Have the California taxpayers reached their limit in paying new taxes?  Perhaps (see Cash-strapped California cities back off asking voters to hike taxes by Ronald Grover posted 8/2/2012 on Reuters).

Over the past six months, city councils in at least seven municipalities invoked a state law which allows them to put tax hikes on the ballot much more quickly in the event of a “fiscal emergency.”

Burdened by expensive public employee contracts and the fall-out from the housing meltdown, the cities are struggling to avoid the fate Stockton and San Bernardino, both of which recently filed for bankruptcy protection.

But now some of those cities are thinking twice about the wisdom of seeking tax hikes…

The retreat reflects political realities in California, where tax increases often generate noisy and well-funded opposition from business groups and self-styled taxpayer advocates…

“Voters are getting very angry that their government keeps coming back and asking for more money,” said Darry Sragow, managing partner of the law firm SNR Denton in Los Angeles and a long-time Democratic campaign strategist. “The voter is saying, ‘I’m cutting back, you should be doing the same thing…'”

The city of El Monte, outside Los Angeles, opted for a different kind of approach. On July 24 it put a proposal on the November ballot to increase taxes on sugary drinks, a move it said would help it fight obesity among its children.

The proposal drew immediate opposition from industry groups who were fighting a similar tax proposed two months earlier by the city of Richmond, California.

“This tax is a sign of the times,” said Bob Achermann, executive director of the Californa/Nevada Soft Drink Association, said. “City governments are looking for revenue. We think this is a misguided approach.”

It is interesting that while it’s the cost of union contracts (salary and benefits, including pensions and health care) causing these crippling deficits they always threaten to lay off cops and firefighters if the voters don’t approve new taxes.  If it’s the union contracts that are causing the problem why are they not addressing the union contracts?  Instead of trying to tax cigarettes or sugary beverages?  While lying to us that this will pay for public health initiatives or make our children healthier?  When it will only go to pay for those union contracts that they can no longer afford?  Passing this cost onto the taxpayers who don’t have such generous pay and benefit packages?  Why?

Because there is a symbiotic relationship between government and unions.  Government gives them generous contracts.  And unions provide campaign cash and foot soldiers for elections.  While passing the high cost of this relationship on to the taxpayers.  Again, those people that don’t have such generous pay and benefit packages.  This is why governments will turn voters upside down and shake them for every last dollar they can get out of them.  So they and the unions can live very comfortable lives.  While the rest of us don’t.

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Taxing the Rich in America, Taxing Everyone as Rich in Europe

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 24th, 2011

Spending is so Great the Only Way to get Serious Deficit Reduction is with Spending Cuts

Dan Greenhaus with BTIG looked at Obama‘s proposed Buffet Tax.  Crunched the numbers from the 2009 U.S. tax returns.  And found that the Buffet Tax is more politics than deficit reduction (see A Little Bit Of Math On The ‘Buffett Tax’ by Joe Weisenthal posted 9/19/2011 on Business Insider Politix).

Nonetheless, if we add up the $1,000,000 and above categories, we get taxable income of $623.6 billion that resulted in $177.5 billion in income tax paid, a rate of less than 28.5%. If we were able to somehow change that tax rate to say 35%, an increase of more than 7 percentage points, the income tax paid in 2009 would have been over $218 billion or an increase of a bit less than $41 billion. If we were able to do this over ten years, the U.S. would have extra income of $410 billion. All from raising taxes by seven full percentage points on those making income over $1,000,000.

Unfortunately, $410 billion is “only” about 7% of the deficit we expect to incur over the next ten years. That is not an inconsequential portion but considering the debate surrounding hiking tax rates by any amount, let alone generating an increase sufficient see a seven percentage point increase in taxes paid, as well as the negative consequences such a sharp adjustment would engender, this hardly seems to be the “only” place to go to achieve debt reduction.

The magnitude of the deficit is too great to pay with new taxes.  As it is now, the 2011 deficit will come in at $1.65 trillion.  A 7% tax rate hike would net an additional $41 billion.  Or $410 billion over ten years.  This would reduce the 2011 deficit from $1.65 trillion to $1.61 trillion.  Not impressive.  Remember, Standard and Poor’s wanted to see $4 trillion in debt reduction over the next decade.  And $410 billion is a long way from $4 trillion.

Take a close look at these numbers.  A $1.65 trillion dollar deficit.  And taxable income as reported to the IRS of $623.6 billion.  The deficit is 2.6 times the total taxable income from those making $1 million or more.  In other words, you could tax away all of their money and the government would still run a deficit.

The spending is so great that the only way you’re going to get serious deficit reduction is with spending cuts.  Because spending is big enough to cut to make a difference.  Unlike taxing the Warren Buffets.  Whose incomes aren’t big enough to make a difference.

So when Keynesian tax and spend liberal Democrats talk about serious deficit reduction it’s just misdirection.  They know they can’t reduce the deficit.  But that’s okay with them.  For that isn’t their goal.  They want to raise taxes for a different reason.  They like to spend.  It’s how they get power.  And votes.  But when you run such massive deficits it’s hard to spend more.  Unless you raise taxes.  And that’s why they want to raise taxes.  Not to reduce the deficit.  Which is impossible to do with tax hikes.  They’ve just run out of money.  And they want more to spend.

Left of Center Welfare States are Always Good for Vote-Getting

And if you think it’s bad on this side of the Atlantic, you should see what they’re doing on the other side.  The Europeans have a lot of social democracies.  Left-of-center governments.  With huge welfare states.  Which is always good for vote-getting.  But it comes at a price.  High taxes.  And lots of debt.

To keep spending at their levels of spending they have raised tax rates on the ‘rich’.  And lowered the threshold for being ‘rich’.  The Business Insider crunched the numbers and put together a little slideshow showing the tax rates.  And what it means to be rich in these countries.  We pulled the data from the slide show and put them into tabular form below (see These Are The Toughest Taxes For Europe’s High Earners by Nick Jardine posted 9/24/2011 on Business Insider Europe).

We calculated the numbers above based on the threshold salary that puts these taxpayers into the top tax rate.  And the tax rate.  All numbers are in U.S. dollars.  The numbers very a little from the Business Insider slideshow possibly due to rounding error.  Or other tax considerations.  But the numbers were close enough to fill in the blanks where needed.  Though it may not be completely accurate, the numbers should be close enough in magnitude for the purpose of discussion.

When they couldn’t Tax the Rich Anymore, they Taxed the Middle Class.  By Redefining them as Rich.

Depending on your political persuasion, you no doubt will draw different conclusions from these numbers.  A Keynesian liberal Democrat will say Germany isn’t taxing their rich enough.  That they are the richest of the rich.  And that they should probably tax everyone earning over, say, $100,000 at the highest rate.  Like in Greece.  A non-Keynesian will see it differently.  They will note that only the German economy is rich enough to bailout the poorer nations of the Eurozone.  Particularly Greece.  Meaning that the more rich people you let be rich the more tax revenue you will have.

A non-Keynesian will think it’s not fair that a rich German only gets to keep $3,581 from the $6,511 he or she earns every week.  The Keynesian will have no problem with that.  Of course, they may not think it’s fair that a Belgian only gets to keep $446 of the $892 he or she earns every week.  They’ll think it’s fair to take about half of what the rich make.  But they don’t think it’s fair calling someone rich who makes only $46,349.  Or calling someone rich who only makes $20,613.  Especially if they earn more than they do.  And currently pay no income taxes.

None of these countries started out at these income thresholds or tax rates.  They’ve lowered income thresholds through the years.  And they’ve raised tax rates.  Whenever their governments spent more money than they had.  Employing class warfare they vilified the rich.  Raised their tax rates.  And when they couldn’t raise tax rates on the rich anymore, they raised taxes on the middle class.  By redefining them as rich.  And they then paid the higher tax rates.  It’s gotten so bad in some countries that people who pay no income tax in America would be paying the highest tax rate in some European countries.  But it all starts with taxing the rich.

With Keynesians in Power you’ll never see Spending Cuts because that’s how Democrats Buy Votes

We have to be careful of what we ask for.  Such as taxing the rich.  Because we may be rich ourselves one day.  As the threshold for being rich shrinks over time.  First it was the billionaires.  Then the millionaires.  Then those earning $200,000 or more.  Then those earning $100,000 or more.  Down to as low as $20,000.

Fair is fair they’ll say.  So you’ll agree to make the rich pay their fair share.  And then those earning less than you will also agree to make the rich pay their fair share.  And by rich they’ll mean you.  Until all earners will be taxed at the highest rate.  To support those non-earners who vote Democrat.

But no matter how much they’ll take it will never be enough.  Because you can’t reduce the deficit/debt by raising taxes.  They’re just too big.  The only way you can reduce these is by reducing the thing that made them so big.  Spending.  But that’s not likely to happen.  As long as Keynesians are in power.  Because that’s how Keynesian tax and spend liberal Democrats buy votes.

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Obama’s Millionaire Tax won’t Provide Serious Deficit Reduction

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 18th, 2011

Deficit Reduction is Important Enough to Raise Taxes but not Important Enough to Cut Spending

Hmmm, a Democrat deficit reduction package.  I wonder what that could mean. Spending cuts?  Or tax hikes?  Well liberal Democrats like to tax and spend.  And Barack Obama is a liberal Democrat.  So it must be tax hikes (see Obama to offer his own debt reduction package by Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press, posted 9/18/2011 on Yahoo! News).

Administration officials see the task of attending to deficits as necessary but not necessarily urgent, compared with the need to revive the economy and increase employment.

What do you know about that?  It’s tax hikes.  What a surprise.

Translation?  It’s important enough to raise taxes to cut the deficit.  But not important enough to cut spending.  In other words, it will be government as usual.  More Keynesian ‘stimulus’ spending.  Which is code for rewarding political friends and allies.  With taxpayer money.  And more class warfare.  Blaming the Obama recession on Republican tactics.  Namely, responsible governance.

The White House signaled its approach Saturday by highlighting a proposal in the president’s plan that would set a minimum tax rate for taxpayers earning more than $1 million.

The measure — Obama is going to call it the “Buffett Rule” for billionaire investor Warren Buffett — is designed to prevent millionaires from using tax-avoidance schemes to pay lower rates than middle-income taxpayers. Buffett has complained that he and other wealthy people have been “coddled long enough” and shouldn’t be paying a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than middle-class taxpayers.

Coddled?  You tell me if we’re coddling these people.

Compare the numbers.  A $60,000 middle class salary pays a current top marginal tax rate of 25%.  That’s somewhere around $11,000 in federal income taxes.  One of these coddled ‘Warren Buffet‘ millionaires may earn $40 million on a half billion dollar investment portfolio.  Taxed at 15% that’s a capital gains tax of $6 million dollars.  So one ‘coddled’ millionaire pays the equivalent of 3,636 middle class taxpayers.

If you look at it this way, rationally, without your head up your keister, you can only arrive at one conclusion.  You don’t want to raise tax rates on the wealthy.  You want to breed them.  With tax policy that encourages the making of more Warren Buffet-class millionaires.

For each new ‘coddled’ millionaire that’s another 3,636 middle class people that could receive significant tax relief.  How?  Lower tax rates across the board.  The middle class pay less.  And more millionaires pay more tax dollars.  The ultimate goal of tax policy.  If you’re not a liberal Democrat, that is.  Whose ultimate goal is, of course, class warfare.  So you can advance policy that is detrimental to the economy.  But beneficial to growing government.  And rewards political friends and allies.  With taxpayer money.

Business Owners Understand their Businesses and Fiscal Policy and are Tiring of being Cash Piñatas

If you’re of the older persuasion you’ve no doubt heard these arguments before.  And after hearing them all these years they don’t fool you anymore.  If you ever were in the first place.  Still, it doesn’t stop them from trying (see Sorry, But The Republican Arguments Against A “Millionaire’s Tax” Are Just Preposterous by Henry Blodget posted 9/18/2011 on Business Insider).

The rest of the Republican counter-arguments are just silly, self-serving, or obstructionist. Let’s take them one by one, ending with the one that seems most persuasive to reasonable people.

“Taxes are a form of theft.”  This is just ridiculous. It’s like arguing that paper money is illegal.

Government is a necessary evil.  Government takes money earned by others.  To pay for public goods.  Everyone understands this.  What people don’t understand is the bastardization of the meaning of public goods.

A public good is a thing that an individual can’t buy.  An individual can’t buy an army and navy to protect himself.  Or herself.  A private individual can’t buy a fresh water and sewage system for himself.  Or herself.  These are public goods.  We pay for these things with taxes.  Everyone pays a little to enjoy the benefits of these massive and costly things.

But we can feed ourselves.  Provide for our own retirement.  Pay for our own healthcare.  We can do these things.  It may be harder for some than others.  But it can be done.  So these things are not public goods.  But government today treats them as public goods.  Taxing us far more than they should.  So they can curry favor with voting groups.

So buying votes with tax dollars may be legal in the strictest sense.  But it is closer to theft than legitimate tax policy.  And printing paper money to fund even more of this spending is generational theft.  A millionaire tax just facilitates more government spending for things government shouldn’t be paying for.

Here is a list of the arguments Blodget says are typically made against raising taxes on millionaires.  Which he goes on to repute.  But I think the arguments speak for themselves.

  • Raising taxes on millionaires will kill their ambition and discourage them from working
  • Raising taxes on millionaires will punish successful people for being successful
  • Raising taxes is always a terrible idea–the problem is spending
  • Taxes are a form of theft: The government has no right to take our money away
  • Raising taxes in a weak economy will further weaken the economy

These are all true.  People like to point to that top marginal tax rate of 1950s when the economy was booming.  But no one paid it.  People hid their earnings in tax shelters to avoid that 90% rate.  Contrary to popular belief on the Left, they didn’t whistle a happy tune and pay it.  They fought it.  And won.  It was a joke.

High taxes do influence rich people.  They will redirect their wealth from income producing.  To wealth preservation.  When tax rates are high.  Just like middle class people do with their 401(k)s.  When they approach retirement.

If a small business earns $1+ million a year, and the owner “passes through” all this income and pays taxes on it, Obama’s “millionaire’s tax” will encourage this owner to do the following:

  • Pay him or herself less
  • Hire more people or otherwise reinvest the money in the business (so it won’t be taxed)

These moves, in turn, should do two things:

  • Help create new jobs (which will help the overall economy)
  • Help grow the owner’s business, thus increasing his or her net worth

Yeah, it could work out like that.  Or it could go another way.  The small business owner can look at this tax policy as a sign that government has no intention of cutting their irresponsible spending.  Which means deficits will only continue to grow.  Which means there will be more taxes in the future.  As there will have to be if they don’t cut spending.  And baseline budgeting keeps increasing that spending every year.  Not to mention all those off-budget spending obligations.

Now business owners live in the real world.  They have to pay payroll taxes with every payroll.  And deal with other taxes and regulatory costs on a daily basis.  They don’t have the luxury of sitting back and prognosticating how tax policy should make business owners behave.  Instead, they’re acting ahead of policy.  They’re listening to this debate and preparing for the worst.  Even before tax policy changes.  Because if they don’t it may be too late when it does.

So this kind of talk is already keeping them from hiring new people.  They are deleveraging left and right.  Because they, unlike government, understand their businesses.  And fiscal policy.  They see what they are to government.  Big, fat cash piñatas.  And they’re tired of being whacked.

They Need to Tax Millionaires because They’re Making Spending Commitments no Amount of Taxation can Sustain

A millionaire tax.  That’s where it starts.  But it’s not where it will end.

People need to understand why government ‘needs’ to tax millionaires.  It’s not because they haven’t been paying their fair share.  It’s because of record deficits.  And record debt.  Caused by record spending.  Just look at the numbers.

Adjusted for inflation, Ronald Reagan‘s largest deficit was $442.614 billion.  George W. Bush‘s largest deficit was $462.56 billion.  In Obama’s first year in office his deficit was $1,416 billion.  In his second year it was $1,294 billion.  They project it to be $1,650 billion in 2011.  And one thing we know about Barack Obama is that he’s not going into the history books as a tax cutter.  So these deficits aren’t from tax cuts.  They’re from spending.

Because of baseline budgeting this spending stays on the books.  And it will only grow.  And all those off-budget spending obligations are growing right along with it.  Such as the trillions the government owes to the Medicare and Social Security trust Funds.  And on top of all of that is Obamacare just waiting to add to our fiscal woes.  This is why they ‘need’ to tax millionaires.  Because the government is making spending commitments no amount of taxation can sustain.  So they will start with millionaires.  Work their way through the middle class.  Then they’ll have no choice but to start rationing benefits.  Followed by austerity.  Then the anarchy comes.  Like in Greece.

This is why we should not add a millionaire tax.  It will not address the spending problem.  And will only facilitate more spending.  Delaying the inevitable day of reckoning.  And making it ever more painful.

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Obama Delivers his $447 Billion Political Stimulus Plan to Congress

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 12th, 2011

Had the $800 Billion Stimulus worked we wouldn’t need the $447 Billion Stimulus

We have a plan. Rather, Congress does. President Obama delivered it today. And he reiterated that they must pass it now. That there was no time for political games. Like he was doing. Saying basically that if the Republicans don’t pass it they don’t want to help the economy. And, by extension, they hate the American people. For only those who hate the American people could deny them jobs (see Obama urges no “political games” on jobs plan by Laura MacInnis and Matt Spetalnick posted 9/12/2011 on Reuters).

President Barack Obama called on Republicans not to play “political games” with his jobs plan as he pressed for swift passage of a $447 billion package he hopes will revive the U.S. economy and boost his re-election prospects…

He took aim at Republicans who have resisted many of his economic initiatives in the past.

“We can’t afford these same political games, not now,” Obama said.

Economic initiatives in the past? Like that $800 billion stimulus? You know, if that had worked we would not need another stimulus. But we apparently need another stimulus. So the previous stimulus must have failed. And, if so, why would this stimulus be any different?

It would appear that the only one playing a game now is the president.

Stimulus Sleight of Hand: Taking from the Private Sector to Stimulate the Private Sector

So let’s take a look at what the president calls stimulus. First of all, where is that $447 billion going to come from (see Obama proposes tax hikes on wealthy to pay for $447B jobs bill by Sam Youngman posted 9/12/2011 on The Hill)?

The White House said Monday that President Obama wants to pay for his $447 billion jobs bill by raising taxes on the wealthy and business.

Oh. He’s going to pay for his jobs bill by raising taxes on the job creators. I mean, let’s face it, poor people don’t create jobs. Rich people do. And businesses. And why aren’t they creating them now? They have no idea what cost this administration is going to levy on them next. Like a tax hike to pay for another stimulus bill.

The stimulus will be temporary. But you can bet those tax hikes won’t be. They’ll be permanent. And a disincentive for rich people and business owners alike to risk their money to create jobs.

The administration would tax the income investment fund managers make, known as “carried interest,” as regular income instead of as capital gains, which has a low 15 percent tax rate. This is another long-standing administration goal that has been resisted by Wall Street as well as some Democrats.

The administration estimates the capital gains change would provide $18 billion in revenue.

In other words, he wants to chase what investment capital we have out of the country.

A lot of people lose money in the stock market. Because it’s risky. It’s like gambling. Where there is no such thing as a sure thing. So those who take big risks often lose big. Even Donald Trump has filed for bankruptcy protection a couple of times. That’s why when they do win they need to win big. To cover all of those times they don’t win. But when you raise the tax rate on those winnings from 15% to 33% (the current top marginal income tax rate), it’s going to make investors think twice. That’s an increase of 120%. They may not just whistle a happy tune and pay it. You see, the funny thing about capital, it’s mobile. You can move it. And park it.

European investors are parking their money in U.S. banks at a negative interest rate while they wait out the European sovereign debt crisis. American investors can just as easily move their money out of the country. And wait for a more favorable investment climate before returning. Which won’t create jobs. Or provide tax revenue.

Another $3 billion would come from changing the way corporate jets depreciate. With a few other revenue raises, Lew indicated the total measures proposed by the administration would bring in $467 billion, $20 billion more than the cost of Obama’s jobs bill.

What is it with him and corporate jets? He sure hates those corporate jets.

So he will pull a half trillion dollars out of the private sector. So he can inject it back into the private sector. Less a small handling fee. And the usual gifts to his political cronies. Resulting in more debt. And very little stimulus. If any.

This is less stimulus. And more political sleight of hand. Taking from the private sector to stimulate the private sector.

The White House dug in on its refusal to say how many jobs the package would create, pointing instead to an estimate from Moody’s that said the bill would create about 1.9 million jobs.

Lew noted that he was not a part of Obama’s economic team when NEC director Christina Roemer and Vice President Biden’s former chief economist Jared Bernstein said that the original stimulus package would reduce unemployment to below 8 percent.

After months of being reminded by Republicans that the recovery act did not cut unemployment, which is now at about 9 percent, Lew said he thinks it is “dangerous to ever predict unemployment rates.”

If Moody’s prediction is accurate, that’s $ 235,263.16 per job. It would be cheaper just to give $30,000 to 1.9 million people. That would only cost $57 billion. And it would probably stimulate more. Of course, they won’t do that. Because that wouldn’t reward any political cronies.

And there’s a good reason why they’re not making any predictions. Because they know this stuff doesn’t work. They only made the unemployment rate prediction because they thought the economy would have fixed itself in short time. It usually does. That’s why they were in such a rush to pass it. They had to pass it before the economy recovered. They had no idea how bad things were. Or how their policies would make things worse. Because they have no idea of how the economy works.

And isn’t the refusal to make unemployment predictions an admission that they have no faith in what they’re doing? Vis-à-vis the economy, that is. For they have full faith and confidence in the political effects. They can predict the campaign donations this will generate. And the likely votes. But they won’t make these predictions public. For it will be admitting the truth of this political stimulus.

Stimulus that Works: Cutting Costs for Business

But someone knows how to create jobs. Not by putting more money into workers’ pockets. But buy cutting a business’ costs (see Detroit Sets Its Future on a Foundation of Two-Tier Wages by Bill Vlasic posted 9/12/2011 on The New York Times).

The newest Chrysler workers earn about $14 an hour, compared with double that amount for longtime employees on the same shift. With the economy slumping and job creation once again a pressing issue in the White House and Congress, the advent of a two-tier wage system in Detroit is spiking employment for one of the country’s most important manufacturing industries…

What was once seen as a desperate move to prop up the struggling auto industry is now considered an integral part of its future. The demand for $14-an-hour manufacturing jobs is providing Detroit’s Big Three automakers with a ready pool of eager new employees. Last year, Chrysler was flooded with inquiries about the jobs here, and it froze the list after receiving 10,000 applications.

So someone understands. American cars weren’t selling because they couldn’t compete in the market place. They couldn’t sell the cars they had. And they certainly weren’t going to expand production. But cut labor costs and look what happens. They can compete in the market place again. And create jobs.

So far, about 12 percent of Chrysler’s 23,000 union workers earn the lower wage, and over all, 4,000 or so of the 112,000 U.A.W. members are second-tier hires. Those numbers are expected to grow — and in fact can increase significantly even under the current contract. The jobs are central to the contract talks now because they are viewed as a critical element of the industry’s continued recovery.

The benefits for the lower-tier workers are scaled back as well. They get a maximum of four weeks paid time off a year, versus five for the longtime workers. And instead of the guaranteed $3,100-a-month pension a full-paid worker receives after age 60, the new hires have to build their own “personal retirement plan” based on contributions from the company of less than $2,000 a year.

This is stimulus that works. Cut costs for business. And business creates jobs. Which is the goal of stimulus.

Raising taxes on business won’t cut costs for business. So it won’t stimulate. Raising taxes on business to pay for a stimulus bill will tap the brakes on the very economy they’re trying to stimulate. And what is government spending that doesn’t stimulate? Pork. Earmarks. Rewarding political cronies.

Keynesian Stimulus Spending stimulates Politics, not Economic Activity

Let the political games begin. And the lying. The latest stimulus is no different from the first stimulus. It will fail. Only it will be less of a failure. The only good thing we can say about it.

Detroit has shown the way. If you want to create jobs. If you want to stimulate the local economy. You cut costs. You don’t raise them. And you do it in a way where there is little uncertainty. The two-tier wage system is here to stay. The automotive companies can plan on this cost certainty.

You know another name for this? Supply-side economics. That’s right. They fixed the car companies on the supply side. Not the demand side. That’s why they won’t take this model and apply it to the rest of the economy. That would go against every Keynesian fiber in their body. But they did in Detroit. Because they had to save the UAW. And things were so bad in the U.S. automotive industry that they had to drop politics this one time. But they will be damned if they’ll concede defeat and stop their Keynesian ways everywhere else. I mean, if they did, how, pray tell, would they reward their political cronies?

Keynesian stimulus spending stimulates politics. Not economic activity. Whereas supply-side economics stimulates economic activity. Not politics. So you can see why those in government are Keynesians. Because spending our money before we can is more important than our economic wellbeing.

 

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LESSONS LEARNED #79: “Tax cuts stimulate. Not tax hikes.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 18th, 2011

With Bubbles the Ride Down is never as Enjoyable as the Ride Up

Bill Clinton dealt George W. Bush a horrible hand.  Clinton enjoyed the irrational exuberance.  He rode the good side of the dot-com bubble.  Saw the treasury awash in cash.  Dot-com people cashing in their stock options and paying huge capital gains taxes.  There was so much money pouring in that projections showed a balanced budget for the first time in a long time.  As long as the people stayed irrationally exuberant.  And that damn Alan Greenspan didn’t raise interest rates.  To rain on his parade.

But he did.  The days of free money were over.  (For awhile, at least).  Because people where bidding up stock prices for companies that hadn’t produced a product or provided a service.  Money poured into these dot-coms as investors were ever hopeful that they had found the next Microsoft.  These companies hired programmers.  Colleges couldn’t graduate enough of them.  To program whatever these companies would eventually do.  But with the spigot of free money turned off these companies ran out of startup capital.  As most of these businesses had no revenue they went out of business.  By the droves.  Throwing these programmers out onto the street.

And then the great contraction.  Which follows a bubble after it is a bubble no more.  Prices fell as deflation replaced inflation.  And as prices fell, unemployment went up.  The phantom prosperity at the end of the Nineties was being corrected.  And the ride down is never as enjoyable as the ride up. 

Easy Monetary Policy and lack of Congressional Oversight of Fannie Mae and Fannie Mac

And then there was, of course, 9/11.  Which further weakened an already weakened economy.  So that’s the backstory to the economic activity of the 2000s.  A decade that began with the aftermath of one bubble bursting.  And ended with an even worse bubble bursting.  The subprime mortgage crisis.  It was a decade of government stimulus.  George W. Bush used both tax cuts (at the beginning of his presidency).  And then a more Keynesian approach (tax rebates and tax incentives) at the end of his presidency.  In other words, tax and spend.

But the subprime mortgage crisis was so devastating that the 2008 stimulus urged by Ben Bernanke (Chairman of the Federal Reserve) to ward off a possible recession failed.  The easy monetary policy and lack of Congressional oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused big trouble.  And put far too many people into houses who couldn’t afford them.  The housing bubble was huge.  And because Fannie and Freddie were buying these risky mortgages and repackaging them into ‘safe’ securities, the fallout went beyond the housing market.  Pension funds, IRAs and 401(k)s that bought these ‘safe’ securities lost huge swaths of wealth.  The economic fallout was vast.  And global.

And then came Barack Obama.  A Keynesian if there was ever one.  With the economy in a free fall towards a depression, he signed into law an $800 billion stimulus package.  Not surprisingly, it turned out that about 88% of that was pure pork and earmarks.  Making his ‘stimulus’ stimulate even less than the George W. Bush $152 billion stimulus package.  And worked about as well.

Home Ownership was the Key to Economic Prosperity in the U.S.

So let’s look at the numbers.  Below is a chart graphing GDP, the unemployment rate and the inflation rate for the 2000s.  GDP is in billions of 2005 dollars.

(Sources: GDP, unemployment, inflation.  *Average to date (GDP – 2 quarters, unemployment rate – 7 months and inflation – 7 months).)

You can see the fallout of the dot-com bust.  The decade opens with deflation and a rising unemployment rate.  GDP, though, was still tracking upward.  After the bush tax cuts in 2001 (Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001) and 2003 (Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003) you can see improvement.  Unemployment peaks out and then falls.  Inflation replaces deflation.  And GDP grows at a greater rate. 

Things were looking good.  But lurking in the background was that easy credit.  And federal policies to qualify unqualified people for mortgages.  To put them into houses they couldn’t afford.  All because home ownership was the key to economic prosperity in the U.S.

Which makes the rising rate of inflation a concern.  Rising inflation (i.e., expansionary or ‘easy’ monetary policy) created the dot-com bubble.  A rising inflation rate can be bad.  But at least during this period the growth rate of GDP is greater than the growth in the inflation rate.  Which indicates real economic growth.  Accompanied by a falling unemployment rate.  All nice.  Until…

Bernanke and Company Crapped their Pants

Those people approved for mortgages they weren’t qualified for?  Guess what?  They couldn’t make their mortgage payments.  And because Fannie and Freddie bought so many of these risky mortgages, these defaults weren’t the banks’ problems.  They were the taxpayers’ problems.  And anyone who bought those ‘safe’ securities.

Long story short, Bernanke and company crapped their pants.  He urged the $152 billion Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 to ward off a possible recession.  This was a Keynesian stimulus.  Remember that summer when you got those $300 checks?  This was that stimulus.  But it didn’t stimulate anything.  People used that money to pay down debt.  Because they were crapping their pants, too.

The good times were over.  That huge housing bubble was bursting.  And nothing was going to stop it.  Certainly not more of the same (Keynesian stimulus).  GDP fell.  Unemployment rose.  Inflation became deflation.  And Bernanke stepped in and turned the printing presses on.  Desperate not to make the same mistake the Fed made during the Great Depression.  When bad Fed policy caused all of those bank runs.

An Inflation Rate Greater than the GDP Growth Rate may Return us to Stagflation

The Obama administration (all Keynesians) pushed for a massive stimulus to fix the economy.  The best and brightest in the administration, Ivy League educated economists, guaranteed that if passed they could hold the unemployment rate under 8%.  So they passed it.  And Bernanke kept printing money.  In other words, more of the same.  More of what gave us the dot-com bubble.  And more of what gave us the housing bubble.  Inflationary monetary policy.  And more government spending.

Didn’t work.  It took a year for the deflation to end.  As the market corrected prices.  And readjusted supply to match actual demand.  The unemployment rate maxed out around 10%.  And the Obama stimulus didn’t move it much from that high. 

GDP growth resumed.  However, the growth of inflation is now greater than the growth of GDP.  A very ominous sign.  Indicating that GDP growth is not real.  And will likely collapse once the ‘free money’ Fed policies end.  Or the growth of inflation coupled with high unemployment return us to the Jimmy Carter stagflation of the Seventies.

Keynesian Stimulus is the way to go if you want Deflation and Recession 

Further Keynesian stimulus may only make a bad situation worse.  And prolong this economic ‘recovery’.  These policies make bubbles.  Which are fine and dandy until they burst.  Giving us deflation and recession.  And the bigger the bubble, the greater deflation and recession that follows.

Tax cuts stimulate.  They ended the dot-com recession.  All Keynesian attempts during the 2000s have failed.  Proving again that tax and spend doesn’t work.  Easy monetary policy and government spending does not end well.  Unless you want deflation and recession.  Then the Keynesian way is the way to go.  But if you want to stimulate economic activity.  If you want real GDP growth.  Then you have to go with tax cuts.  As their track record of success shows.

 www.PITHOCRATES.com

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