Archive for Spread the Wealth

Socialism Doesn’t Work

Back when he was just Senator Obama, or State Senator “Present” Obama, or Lecturer Obama, or even just Community Organizer (read: shakedown artist) Obama—under whatever beret he was wearing at the time, Obama wanted to “spread the wealth”, to promote “fairness”.

He’s even a failure as a socialist! [Excerpts follow]

Highlights of the Fall 2013 Affluent Market Tracking Study #24

This report is based on the responses from 327 men and women who promptly responded and met the minimum net worth requirement of $800,000. Their households have an average annual income of $295,000, an average net worth of $3.1 million, average investable assets of $1.7 million, and an average primary residence value of $1.3 million. Over 93% have a net worth of $1M or more.

The wealthiest 10% of U.S. households account for almost half of all consumer spending.

Since 2002 these surveys have regularly measured and tracked the 12-month outlook of the most affluent households for the economy, the stock market and their personal earnings, savings, investment objectives, and spending plans for 17 product categories and 8 major expenditures.

The 17 brands listed for ownership/experience, familiarity/knowledge, and perceptions were Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci, Chanel, Prada, Coach, Burberry, Rolex, Breitling, Clinique, Lancôme, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom’s, Four Seasons Hotels, Ritz-Carleton Hotels, BMW, and Lexus.

Spending plans for the 8 major items and the indexes for the change in spending for the 17 products and services tracked by these surveys are about the same or a little stronger than the prior two surveys in most cases.

The affluent seem to have a slightly better outlook than the general public. … Almost a third expect their net worth to be higher in March 2014.

But it hasn’t been all Lafite and long-stemmed roses for the wealthy:

The encouraging mood and spending plans of the affluent in September may have been negatively influenced by the deadlock on deficit and debt reduction legislation and the resulting volatility in the stock market during October.

Aww…

I wondered about posting this, as it fits Obama’s socialist agenda more than my conservative/libertarian one. Who wants to hear about the rich getting richer?

But the economy is not a zero-sum game. What do I care if the rich are getting richer, if they’re not taking it from someone else? By hard work and luck, they have succeeded economically. Why shouldn’t they enjoy their Hermes, Gucci, and Chanel (oh my!) if they want to? And as their spending amounts to half of all consumer spending, we’d better hope they keep it up!

Oh, and while Comrade Obama is bashing and threatening millionaires with “peasants with pitchforks”, you know who millionaires are?

We are the 10%:

[T]he affluent have limited experience and familiarity with luxury brands. This is perhaps understandable since over 80% of millionaires are self-made and were raised in families with little or no exposure to luxury products.

The Obamas fit this profile. Raised in modest circumstances, they now enjoy the finest lifestyle America can offer. With one small difference: being on the make is not the same as being self-made.

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Just Say No.

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Tim Thomas did

Opposed to what he called the “out of control” growth of the federal government, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas declined an invitation to join his teammates at the White House on Monday.

The award-winning Thomas, who last year led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup championship emblematic of National Hockey League supremacy, was one of three players missing when President Barack Obama met with the team to offer congratulations.

According to a story on the team’s website, www.bostonbruins.com, Thomas “opted out” of the White House visit. One of the other missing players was injured, and the third now plays for another team, according to the website story.

A statement by the 37-year-old Thomas posted Monday on the team website said he opposed the “out of control” growth of the federal government that threatened “the rights, liberties, and property of the people.”

“This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the federal government,” the statement said. “Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.”

Good for him. (Or are we supposed to assume that he’s a raaacist?)

- Aggie

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It’s Unprecedented!™

The structure of the Solyndra loan was a brand new way to rip-off taxpayers

Two senior Treasury officials said Friday that they had never seen a loan restructuring similar to an Energy Department loan to a failed solar panel maker.
In this Sept. 23, 2011 file photo, CEO Brian Harrison of the bankrupt solar energy company Solyndra invokes his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination as he appears before the the House Energy Commitee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee which is examining Solyndra’s government loan, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The half-billion dollar loan to Solyndra Inc. was restructured earlier this year so that private investors moved ahead of taxpayers for repayment on part of the loan in case of a default.

Treasury officials Gary Grippo and Gary Burner told a House committee they had never seen that occur in a federal loan. Grippo is a deputy assistant treasury secretary and Burner is chief financial officer at the Federal Financing Bank, which made a $528 million loan to Solyndra in 2009.

The two Treasury officials stopped short of declaring the loan restructuring illegal, as some Republicans allege.

“I can’t give you a legal interpretation on that, sir,” Burner told Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla.

Grippo, who oversees the financing bank, said it was not Treasury’s job to make legal interpretations. Instead, he said Treasury officials correctly raised questions about the deal in a series of emails and memos.

“Our role is to be as helpful as we can,” Grippo told the House Energy and Commerce Committee Friday.

Hours later, the panel’s Republican majority released an email showing that a White House budget official also questioned the loan restructuring.

I was torn about the title of this post. Should I have called it The Most Transparent Administration Evah Makes A Very Large Loan, And Taxpayers Lose? Or is that too long? What do you think?

- Aggie

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Buffett Asked For It

I don’t want to get mad at or even with Warren Buffett. But if he’s going to be part of the debate—so much so as to have a tax rate named after him—he’s got a target (horrors!) on his back:

As data from the Internal Revenue Service make clear, the vast majority of those earning more than $1 million per year typically pay tax rates two to three times higher than people making less than $100,000. In 2008, the average tax rate for millionaires and above was 23.3% and for those earning between $30,000 and $50,000 it was 7.2%.

But the opportunity to educate the public would be even greater if Mr. Buffett would let everyone else in on his secrets of tax avoidance by releasing his tax returns. Going only by Mr. Buffett’s unverified claims, his federal taxes in 2010 amounted to 17.4% of his taxable income, probably because much of his income was from capital gains and dividends. It’s also likely that he took significant deductions for charitable donations. No doubt the millions of Americans who could end up paying more because of this claim would love to see the details.

Mr. Buffett also wrote in the New York Times that none of the other people in his office paid less than a 33% rate, and at least one colleague paid 41%. This suggests that Mr. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway staff are the kind of folks the President would consider “rich.” Mr. Obama might even call them “millionaires and billionaires” if some of them have annual incomes of more than $200,000.

We wouldn’t want to violate their individual privacy, but since Mr. Buffett is using them to make a political point, perhaps he’d be willing to disclose the most important lines on their returns without disclosing their names. This too would be instructive.

To our knowledge Mr. Buffett hasn’t publicly disclosed his own return beyond offering a peek to talk-show host Charlie Rose. If Mr. Buffett’s anecdote is going to be the main political basis for rewriting the U.S. tax code, Americans have every right to know the basis for the anecdote. We called Berkshire Hathaway last week to see if Mr. Buffett would release his 2010 return, but we haven’t heard back.

I don’t need to see anybody’s 1040s, but I don’t appreciate being lied to, or at least manipulated. It’s disingenuous if not downright dishonest for Buffett and his puppet master (or puppet?) Obama to make claims that are not backed up by the data—and then to hide behind anonymity. They’ll get nowhere with that argument.

But I have my own personal gripe. I am positive Buffett contributes heavily toward charitable causes—virtually all rich people do. How many hospital wings or concert halls are named after Secretaries of HHS or NEA administrators? And so do the middle class. I’m a veteran of hosting several public broadcasting drives, and my wife and I sit down every December to write checks to a variety of worthy institutions (John Birch Society, Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy Conservancy :-) ). So what deduction does Obama pledge to eliminate? Charitable deductions.

Obama wants to punish the rich (and the rest of us) for underwriting causes dear to them (and us), seize the money via higher taxes on the rich and the elimination of the deductions, and redistribute the money as he sees fit. That transcends mere socialism; it’s outright Marxism. What’s even more Marxist is that he proposes to do all this under the banner of a “jobs” plan—when all it is is another slush fund to pay off favored special interest groups. The Red Cross can go hang—Obama’s hanging with the SEIU.

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A Big Target

I’m worried about Michael Moore—but not half as much as he worries about himself:

“[I]f I have any regret, it’s the – it’s what it put me and my family through as a result of the amount of hatred that was generated on a certain news channel and on AM hate radio. And they – they daily encouraged people to essentially commit acts of violence against me. It was – I mean, Glenn Beck famously said that he was thinking of killing me live on the air.”

I think there are – in the book, I document a half a dozen assaults on me, including a very significant one that resulted in a prison term for an individual who was, you know, planning to blow up my house.”

Well, prison would be a good place for him, then.

I wonder if prison wouldn’t be the right place for this guy, too:

Moore says, “The smart rich know they can only build the gate so high. And … history proves that people, when they’ve had enough, aren’t going to take it anymore. And much better to deal with it nonviolently now, through the political system, than what could possibly happen in the future, which nobody wants to see.”

How is that different from the mob wiseguy who says to the business owner, “Nice place ya got here—shame if somethin’ happened to it.”? It’s not, of course.

So Michael Moore, a defiantly controversial public figure, claims death threats against himself (without challenge or corroboration), while not so subtly threatening violence against people for the crime of being rich.

Does he have a new movie coming out? No? How else to explain his reckless, irresponsible behavior?

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Maybe He is the Messiah!

President Obama must be a religious man. Else how to explain his economic policy drawn straight out of Isaiah 40:4?

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.

Let me introduce [Obama's] third, a book that will touch everyone’s life: “A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America’s Promise. The President’s Budget and Fiscal Preview” (Government Printing Office, 141 pages, $26; free on the Web). This is the U.S. budget for laymen, and it’s a must read.

Turn immediately to page 11. There sits a chart called Figure 9. This is the Rosetta Stone to the presidential mind of Barack Obama. Memorize Figure 9, and you will never be confused. Not happy, perhaps, but not confused.

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One finds many charts in a federal budget, most attributed to such deep mines of data as the Census Bureau or the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The one on page 11 is attributed to “Piketty and Saez.”

Either you know instantly what “Piketty and Saez” means, or you don’t. If you do, you spent the past two years working to get Barack Obama into the White House. If you don’t, their posse has a six-week head start on you.

Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, French economists, are rock stars of the intellectual left. Their specialty is “earnings inequality” and “wealth concentration.”

Messrs. Piketty and Saez have produced the most politically potent squiggle along an axis since Arthur Laffer drew his famous curve on a napkin in the mid-1970s. Laffer’s was an economic argument for lowering tax rates for everyone. Piketty-Saez is a moral argument for raising taxes on the rich.

Good, I hear you saying! Soak the rapacious bastards. Buncha Madoff wannabes—take all their money, then line ‘em up and shoot ‘em.

Well, you elected the right man for the job.

Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute criticized the Piketty-Saez study on these pages in October 2007. Whatever its merits, their “Top 1%” chart has become a totemic obsession in progressive policy circles.

Turn to page five of Mr. Obama’s federal budget, and one may read these commentaries on the top 1% datum:

“While middle-class families have been playing by the rules, living up to their responsibilities as neighbors and citizens, those at the commanding heights of our economy have not.”

“Prudent investments in education, clean energy, health care and infrastructure were sacrificed for huge tax cuts for the wealthy and well-connected.”

“There’s nothing wrong with making money, but there is something wrong when we allow the playing field to be tilted so far in the favor of so few. . . . It’s a legacy of irresponsibility, and it is our duty to change it.”

Mr. Obama made clear in the campaign his intention to raise taxes on this income class by letting the Bush tax cuts expire. What is becoming clearer as his presidency unfolds is that something deeper is underway here than merely using higher taxes to fund his policy goals in health, education and energy.

The “top 1%” isn’t just going to pay for these policies. Many of them would assent to that. The rancorous language used to describe these taxpayers makes it clear that as a matter of public policy they will be made to “pay for” the fact of their wealth — no matter how many of them worked honestly and honorably to produce it. No Democratic president in 60 years has been this explicit.

Of course, what nobody seems to have mentioned is that that top 1% is already overpaying taxes—they make 22% of the income, but pay almost 40% of the taxes!!!

Look at the relative tax burden over the last five years:

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I don’t know about the exalted and the low and the rough—but I’d like to see him make the crooked straight. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.

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What…an…Idiot

Hey kids, what say we raise taxes in a recession?

Yeah, that’s the ticket!

His plan for revitalizing the economy relies on sucking about a trillion dollars out of it over a ten-year period, starting in 2011:

1) On people making more than $250,000.

$338 billion – Bush tax cuts expire
$179 billlion – eliminate itemized deduction
$118 billion – capital gains tax hike

Total: $636 billion/10 years

2) Businesses:

$17 billion – Reinstate Superfund taxes
$24 billion – tax carried-interest as income
$5 billion – codify “economic substance doctrine”
$61 billion – repeal LIFO
$210 billion – international enforcement, reform deferral, other tax reform
$4 billion – information reporting for rental payments
$5.3 billion – excise tax on Gulf of Mexico oil and gas
$3.4 billion – repeal expensing of tangible drilling costs
$62 million – repeal deduction for tertiary injectants
$49 million – repeal passive loss exception for working interests in oil and natural gas properties
$13 billion – repeal manufacturing tax deduction for oil and natural gas companies
$1 billion – increase to 7 years geological and geophysical amortization period for independent producers
$882 million – eliminate advanced earned income tax credit

Total: $353 billion/10 years

[T]he hike from 15% to 20% on capital-gains taxes assumes that people will invest and cash out in the same manner they do at 15%. They won’t. The fact of increasing the tax will discourage investors and encourage them to shift money out before the hike. Not only will the extra revenue vanish, but investment levels will drop, leading to job losses and less opportunity for American businesses.

And what “itemized deduction” will get eliminated? All of them? Some of them?

The business tax hikes are even worse. Obama will increase taxes on existing American oil production starting in 2011. Do we have massive amounts of alternative energy capacity ready to replace the energy production and usage that this will discourage? A growing economy has to have a reliable energy supply. Energy producers get hit on several fronts in this plan, and those costs will either result in lower energy production or increased cost to the consumers.

Again, the expected revenues will far exceed the reality, once the depressive economic effects of these taxes kick in. The spending, unfortunately, will be all too real, which will mean huge, ballooning deficits.

I left so much commentary in because it’s so damn good [Ed Morrissey, Hot Air].

But let me remind you of what Obama said before about tax rates and economic vitality: it’s about fairness:

MR. GIBSON: …you would favor an increase in the capital gains tax. As a matter of fact, you said on CNBC, and I quote, “I certainly would not go above what existed under Bill Clinton, which was 28 percent.”

It’s now 15 percent. That’s almost a doubling if you went to 28 percent. But actually Bill Clinton in 1997 signed legislation that dropped the capital gains tax to 20 percent.

And George Bush has taken it down to 15 percent.

And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased. The government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down. So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?

SENATOR OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.

Fairness. It doesn’t matter if we’re poorer as a people, as long as it meets his definition of fairness.

The great tyrants and fools of history are never shy or secretive about their plans. They write manifestos, pronouncements, and red books. He told us what he was going to do, and now he’s gone and done it. The dumbs**t.

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The Tree of Liberty is in Splinters

Did you see the story Michelle Malkin linked to? The so-called Fiscal Responsibility summit (ha!) is actually one big call of sou-u-u-u-u-ie!

Aside from the 64 representatives from the Obama administration and Congress, a sampling of the 56 “community leaders and stakeholders” shows that no less than seven union chiefs, 10 organizations advancing racial and ethnic concerns, 10 progressive think tanks and advocacy groups, three universities, three health care associations and at least six interests groups for women, seniors, disabled and gay rights groups were in attendance.

Six conservative think tanks and advocacy groups, two health policy organizations and four business associations along with one law firm specializing in Wall Street mergers, one retirement and financial services fund, a John McCain adviser and a representative from the Congressional Budget Office rounded out the guest list.

So many piglets, so few teats.

Just look at the list and tell me how many people here have any interest in “fiscal responsibility” or in what’s best for America—and I include the 64 members of the Obama administration and Congress.

Unions
John Gage, American Federation of Government Employees
John Sweeney, AFL-CIO
Gerry McEntee, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers
Anna Burger, Change to Win
Dennis Van Roekel, National Education Association
Andy Stern, Service Employees Union International

Health Care Associations
Richard Umbdenstock, American Hospital Association
Nancy Neilson , American Medical Association
Becky Patton, American Nurses Association

Health Policy Foundations
Karen Davis, Commonwealth Fund
Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation

Racial and Ethnic Interest Groups
Karen Narasaki, Asian American Justice Center (AAJC)
Dr. Ho Tran, Asian Pacific Islanders American Health Forum (APIAHF)
Gary Flowers, Black Leadership Forum
Eleanor Hinton Hoytt, Black Womens Health Imperative
Maya Rockeymoore, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
Hilary Shelton, NAACP
Jackie Johnson Pata, National Congress of American Indians
Janet Murguia, National Council of La Raza
Marc Morial, National Urban League (NY)

Seniors, Women, Disabled, Gay Rights Groups
Bill Novelli, AARP
Ed Coyle, Alliance for Retired Americans
Marty Ford, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities
Ellie Smeal, Feminist Majority
Joe Salomonese, Human Rights Campaign
Heidi Hartmann, Institute for Women’s Policy

Left-Leaning Think Tanks and Advocacy Groups
Alice Rivlin, Brookings Institution
Roger Hickey, Campaign for America’s Future
John Podesta, Center for American Progress
Larry Korb, Center for American Progress
Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Robert Greenstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Lawrence Mishel, Economic Policy Institute
John Cavanagh, Institue for Policy Studies
Barbara B. Kennelly, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
Al From, Progressive Policy Institute
Robert Reischauer, Urban Institute

Right-Leaning Think Tanks and Advocacy Groups
Kevin Hassitt, American Enterprise Institute
Maya MacGuinneas, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
Bob Bixby, Concord Coalition
Stewart Butler, Heritage Foundation
David Walker, Peter G. Peterson Foundation
Peter Peterson, Peter G. Peterson Foundation
Ron Pollack, Families USA

Business Interest Groups
John Castellani, Business Roundtable
Joe Minarek, Center for Economic Development
Martin Regalia, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Todd Stottlemyer, National Association of Independent Businesses

Universities
Bill Spriggs, Howard University
Fernando Torres-Gil, UCLA
Michael Graetz, Yale

Wall Street Law Firm
Fred Goldberg, Skadden

Retirement and Financial Services Firm
Roger Ferguson, Teachers Insurance and Annuities Association-College Retirement Education Fund

Former John McCain Adviser
Douglas Holtz-Eakin

Congressional Budget Office
Doug Elmendorf, Director

We are no longer citizens of the United States of America; we are now citizens of the United States of Hyphenated-Americans.

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Das Kapital ist Koenig

Try to keep this news from our President Elect—we wouldn’t want to kill his socialist buzz—but the the story’s never going to change: the freest economies are the healthiest:

As former Texas Longhorn coach Darrell Royal liked to say, when faced with a challenging bowl game, you need to “dance with the one who brung you” to the party. Mr. Royal meant that even when faced with daunting new challenges, one would be well advised not to abandon a winning formula that had already brought success. That is good advice as the United States and other economies face the daunting task of restoring economic growth.

The “party” in this case is the six decades of increasing prosperity that the world has enjoyed since the end of World War II. U.S. Gross Domestic Product was about $1.6 trillion in 1947 (valued in 2000 dollars), a little over $11,000 for every man, woman and child. In 2007, it was $11.5 trillion, or about $38,000 per capita. That’s almost a doubling of average incomes each generation, made possible by the free market’s efficiency in allocating capital and labor.

Capitalism, the U.S. dance partner during this period of unprecedented economic growth, is, by the accounts of political leftists, no longer the smartest looking companion on the dance floor. They like the looks of other systems like socialism much better. Yet despite recent setbacks, they would be hard pressed to deny that capitalism steps out more nimbly than its rivals, and keeps up with the music far more surely.

Shall we compare the top five to the bottom five?

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Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand (the US is 6th) versus North Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Burma, Eritrea.

These dregs-nations are political basket-cases as well as economic ones. Their people enjoy no civil liberties, as we understand the term, and are forced to starve to death for their troubles.

Why did we miss the top 5 this year?

“The U.S. slipped one spot to sixth place this year because of increases in both tax revenue and government spending as a percentage of GDP.”

Couldn’t ask for a better set-up:

President-elect Barack Obama will go to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to meet with Senate Democrats and make his case for how he wants to spend the second half of the $700 billion bailout, two Democratic sources said.

Obama will attend the weekly lunch of the Democratic senators in what will be his final visit to the Senate before his inauguration next week, according to the transition team. He’s also expected to continue to push for his economic stimulus plan.

Remember during the primary campaign when Obama was asked about raising the capital gains tax? Presented with the evidence—evidence!—that raising capital gains taxes reduces income, all he could talk about was fairness. What’s fair about everyone doing worse, just to make sure some don’t do better?

Here, watch:

Boy, he talks well for an absolute moron. Or a socialist. (Not that the two are mutually exclusive.)

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Get Used To It, People

Barack’s raised over $600 million—but prime-time TV half-hours don’t grow on trees.

He’s back for more:

It seems like only a week ago that The Ticket was whining about Barack Obama whining that after raising $605 million through September to buy the presidency, he was asking all of us one last time for just $10 more for some reason.

And we figured out that, October money aside, he’d have to spend $12.5 million a day just to unload September’s haul by Nov. 4.

The Democrat is already outspending the Republican by three and four-to-one, which if it was the other way around would surely be unconscionable.

So last night Obama dumped several million bucks on several TV networks, which they don’t mind, to talk at us slickly for 27 minutes about his change that we need.

And when that was over, pingo, here comes another e-mail from Windy City HQ. You’ll never guess what. He wants more money. More. Still.

Only next time, as president, he ain’t asking. “Spread the wealth” will go from an explanation to a demand. Auntie Zeituni needs a better crib.

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