Friday, December 10, 2010

Lame-Duck Session - #2464- There is No Tax Deal - Heritage Foundation (2) Charles Krauthammer - Swindle of the Year, Washington Post (3) Jonah Goldberg: Dr. K's 'Swindle' - The National Review Online (4) The Crisis of the Middle - Rich Lowry - National Review

On Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden reportedly told House Democrats that the tax deal cut with Republicans was a “take it or leave it” proposition that could not be changed. But by last night, after fierce opposition from his leftist base, President Barack Obama was singing a different tune, telling NPR: “My sense is there are going to be discussions between both House and Senate leadership about all the final elements of the package. Keep in mind we didn’t actually write a bill.” Well now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) has submitted a bill, and it is clear that negotiations are still very much open … at least for the left. Politico reports that in order to buy the votes of Senators Maria Cantwell (D–WA) and Barbara Boxer (D–CA), Reid added cash subsidies for wind and solar corporations that were originally part of Obama’s first failed stimulus. And Senator Tom Harkin (D–IA) was also able to trade his vote for more ethanol subsidies. Other “sweeteners” added to buy leftist Senate votes include subsidies for energy-efficient appliances and mass-transit benefits for employees.
And the legislation can only get worse. Yesterday House Democrats voted to oppose the Obama tax deal, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–CA) telling Politico: “In the caucus today, House Democrats supported a resolution to reject the Senate Republican tax provisions as currently written. We will continue discussions with the president and our Democratic and Republican colleagues in the days ahead to improve the proposal before it comes to the House floor for a vote.” And by “improve the proposal,” Speaker Pelosi can only mean higher taxes and higher spending. Read more.......

'Swindle of the Year' - Charles Krauthammer - Washington Post - Barack Obama won the great tax-cut showdown of 2010 - and House Democrats don't have a clue that he did. In the deal struck this week, the president negotiated the biggest stimulus in American history, larger than his $814 billion 2009 stimulus package. It will pump a trillion borrowed Chinese dollars into the U.S. economy over the next two years - which just happen to be the two years of the run-up to the next presidential election. This is a defeat? If Obama had asked for a second stimulus directly, he would have been laughed out of town. Stimulus I was so reviled that the Democrats banished the word from their lexicon throughout the 2010 campaign. And yet, despite a very weak post-election hand, Obama got the Republicans to offer to increase spending and cut taxes by $990 billion over two years. Two-thirds of that is above and beyond extension of the Bush tax cuts but includes such urgent national necessities as windmill subsidies. Read more......

Dr. K's 'Swindle' - Jonah Goldberg - - National Review Online -  I take a back seat to no man in my admiration of Charles Krauthammer, but could someone around here take a look at his math? Because I’m a little confused (I know, I know, many would call that a profound understatement). For instance, White House and GOP talking points notwithstanding, keeping tax rates where they are is not a stimulus. It might have a stimulating effect by reducing uncertainty etc. Indeed, I think that’s the case. But how does maintaining the status quo (and raising the estate tax from its current level) pump new money into the economy? Also, I understand that for deficit accounting, many people buy into the idea that tax cuts are indistinguishable from spending increases. But that seems like a separate argument from whether or not this deal provides a second, even bigger, stimulus. Obviously some things in the tax deal are stimulative, like the payroll tax cut (which I think should have been split between employers and employees). But I’d just like to see a break out of how Charles gets to $1 trillion in new stimulus spending.

The Crisis of the Middle - Rich Lowry - National Review - The unemployment rate for people with a college degree or higher is 5 percent. If that were the rate for everyone, it’d be the 1990s again. But college graduates are only 30 percent of the country. For the rest of the population, the jobs picture is grimmer. For people without a high-school degree, the unemployment rate is more than 15 percent. If that were the rate for everyone, it’d be the 1930s again.The unemployment rates are part of a growing divergence between the fortunes of the college educated and the rest of the country, including proverbial Middle America. In his new study, “When Marriage Disappears,” University of Virginia scholar Brad Wilcox details how the college-educated have embraced traditional mores and habits — especially the formation of stable families — while they erode among everyone else.  Our elites, broadly defined as the top third of our society, aren’t nearly as decadent as advertised. According to Wilcox’s data, the highly educated (with a college diploma or higher) are less likely to divorce, less likely to have children out of wedlock, and less likely to commit adultery than the moderately educated (high-school degree or some college) and the least-educated (no high-school diploma).  Read more........  Fascinating statistics, don't miss this one from University of Virginia.  

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