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Archive for October 27th, 2011

Strauss: Tax Cuts Don’t Boost Economy

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

Strauss: Tax Cuts Don’t Boost Economy
Steven Strauss: It has been something of an article of faith among conservatives that the solution to America’s problems is in smaller government and lower tax rates. The argument on taxes goes something like: “We need to unleash the wealth creators, who stimulated by the prospect of more income (due to lower tax rates), will create wealth for all of us.” And, that any tax increase — for even the wealthiest taxpayers — would have catastrophic consequences. Actually the post World War II American economy provides a nice empirical test of this hypothesis — the maximum marginal income tax rate gradually declined from about 90 percent to about 35 percent. Shouldn’t this decline have lead to an explosion of economic growth as our wealth creators were unleashed? Sorry, Sarah Palin … it didn’t.



Ayn Bland

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Ayn Bland
Is there a more easily rewarded person in America than David Brooks (other than every other conservative pundit of course)? Here he is, Bobo Fetid, in all his “glory” circa 2005: Anybody who has lived in Europe knows how delicious European life can be. But it is not the absolute standard of living that determines […]

pic via monkey_bob99x at flickr.com

Is there a more easily rewarded person in America than David Brooks (other than every other conservative pundit of course)?

Here he is, Bobo Fetid, in all his “glory” circa 2005:

Anybody who has lived in Europe knows how delicious European life can be. But it is not the absolute standard of living that determines a people’s morale, but the momentum. It is happier to live in a poor country that is moving forward – where expectations are high – than it is to live in an affluent country that is looking back.

Which is a rather amazingly stupid quote even then, let alone now, for a guy who goes out of his way to cheer-lead Ayn Rand disciple Paul Ryan. They think alike, trickle down uber alles.

But it turns out that in economics, like diplomacy, David Brooks is consistently, grossly wrong. Those poor suffering stagnant Euros couldn’t possibly understand the economic, classless dynamism of modern ‘murica, right? Wrong:

“Most studies find that, in America, about half of the advantages of having a parent with a high income are passed on to the next generation,” their report concludes. “This means that one of the biggest predictors of an American child’s future economic success — the identity and characteristics of his or her parents — is predetermined and outside that child’s control…There is little available evidence that the United States has more relative mobility than other advanced nations. If anything, the data seem to suggest the opposite.”

But a fantasist destined for the benefits of the welfare state said otherwise in a fictional work written during the Eisenhower Administration it…must…trump…reality.

Late Late Night FDL: No Banker Left Behind
Ry CooderNo Banker Left Behind.

Ry CooderNo Banker Left Behind.

What’s on your mind?


L.A. Has a Change of Heart, Decides to Evict Occupiers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

L.A. Has a Change of Heart, Decides to Evict Occupiers
Despite showing support early on for the protesters occupying their lawn, the people who run L.A. City Hall have decided the occupation “cannot continue indefinitely.” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa complained to the Los Angeles Times, “The lawn is dead, our sprinklers aren’t working … our trees are without water.” Some of the occupiers have nowhere else to go. One of them told the L.A. Times that “it will be violent” if police attempt to clear the park. This week we were treated to a horror show in Oakland when police there fired tear gas and what appeared to be concussion grenades of some kind into the crowd of occupiers. The Times reports that officials are looking for an alternative location for the encampment (maybe somewhere in the Mojave Desert?). As we reported on this site, the L.A. City Council voted unanimously two weeks ago to support the protesters. Apparently the honeymoon is over. Maybe this will help Occupy L.A. address that “identity problem,” as local observer Kevin Roderick put it, caused by the fact that protesters in L.A. had been so warmly received by the object of their encampment. Below is a statement in response from OccupyLosAngeles.org.  —PZS In response to Mayor Villaraigosa’s and other CA officials comments made earlier today regarding Occupy LA: We have enjoyed a very good relationship with the City of Los Angeles, whose council 2 weeks ago announced their support for Occupy LA. As recently as this morning, Councilman Rosendahl reconfirmed his support of the occupiers. We sincerely hope that a positive working relationship between city officials and the LAPD continues. We appreciate Mayor Villaraigosa’s statement of respect and Senator Feinstein for acknowledging our first amendment rights. As for a time stamp on our departure, there is none. Regarding the perceived lack of focus: Our actions are governed by a democratic process and we go through process to gain consensus. This can sometimes be lengthy, but we are determined that, as representatives of the 99%, all voices are heard and considered. All city and state officials, as well as interested general public, are openly invited to these General Assembly meetings held nightly. We are resolved to continue our peaceful occupation. Occupiers across America are bravely and against great odds and obstacles exercising the right to have their voices heard in a public forum, we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around this nation and around the globe. ~PR & Media Relations

Despite showing support early on for the protesters occupying their lawn, the people who run L.A. City Hall have decided the occupation “cannot continue indefinitely.” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa complained to the Los Angeles Times, “The lawn is dead, our sprinklers aren’t working … our trees are without water.”

Some of the occupiers have nowhere else to go. One of them told the L.A. Times that “it will be violent” if police attempt to clear the park.

This week we were treated to a horror show in Oakland when police there fired tear gas and what appeared to be concussion grenades of some kind into the crowd of occupiers.

The Times reports that officials are looking for an alternative location for the encampment (maybe somewhere in the Mojave Desert?).

As we reported on this site, the L.A. City Council voted unanimously two weeks ago to support the protesters. Apparently the honeymoon is over.

Maybe this will help Occupy L.A. address that “identity problem,” as local observer Kevin Roderick put it, caused by the fact that protesters in L.A. had been so warmly received by the object of their encampment.

Below is a statement in response from OccupyLosAngeles.org.? —PZS

In response to Mayor Villaraigosa’s and other CA officials comments made earlier today regarding Occupy LA:

We have enjoyed a very good relationship with the City of Los Angeles, whose council 2 weeks ago announced their support for Occupy LA. As recently as this morning, Councilman Rosendahl reconfirmed his support of the occupiers. We sincerely hope that a positive working relationship between city officials and the LAPD continues. We appreciate Mayor Villaraigosa’s statement of respect and Senator Feinstein for acknowledging our first amendment rights. As for a time stamp on our departure, there is none. Regarding the perceived lack of focus: Our actions are governed by a democratic process and we go through process to gain consensus. This can sometimes be lengthy, but we are determined that, as representatives of the 99%, all voices are heard and considered. All city and state officials, as well as interested general public, are openly invited to these General Assembly meetings held nightly. We are resolved to continue our peaceful occupation.

Occupiers across America are bravely and against great odds and obstacles exercising the right to have their voices heard in a public forum, we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around this nation and around the globe.

~PR & Media Relations

Related Entries



Eurozone Leaders Reach Agreement On Greek Debt

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

Eurozone Leaders Reach Agreement On Greek Debt
European leaders have reached a three-pronged agreement to resolve the eurozone debt crisis, including a deal that will halve Greek debt. Banks were major gainers…

Water Bottle Makers Sued Over False Claims
LOS ANGELES — The California attorney general’s office on Wednesday sued three companies over allegations they misled consumers by marketing plastic water bottles as biodegradable….

Van Jones: All Eyes on Occupy Oakland: Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Jail
Let us be clear: there is no justification for the use of violence against a non-violent protest. This kind of crackdown is bad for our democracy, and it’s bad for public safety.

State Issues Prove Tricky For GOP Presidential Field
CINCINNATI — Mitt Romney had gingerly distanced himself from a labor issue on the Ohio ballot one day. The next, he embraced the initiative “110…


Right-Wing Media Go On Attack Against Student Debt Relief

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2011 4:41 am by HL

Right-Wing Media Go On Attack Against Student Debt Relief

Fox News and the right-wing media are attacking President Obama’s student loan relief plan as a “campaign speech” and an attempt to “buy votes.” Obama’s plan is designed to help ease the burden of student loans for millions of people by lowering interest rates, consolidating outstanding student loans, and providing debt relief to students after they spend 20 years paying off their loans.

Obama Announces Student Loan Relief Plan

AP: “Obama Announces Help For Student Loan Borrowers.” From an October 26 Associated Press article:

President Barack Obama recalled his struggles with student loan debt as he unveiled a plan Wednesday that could give millions of young people some relief on their payments.

[…]

Obama’s plan will accelerate a measure passed by Congress that reduces the maximum required payment on student loans from 15 percent of discretionary income annually to 10 percent. He will put it into effect in 2012, instead of 2014. In addition, the White House says the remaining debt would be forgiven after 20 years, instead of 25. About 1.6 million borrowers could be affected.

He will also allow borrowers who have a loan from the Federal Family Education Loan Program and a direct loan from the government to consolidate them into one. The consolidated loan would carry an interest rate of up to a half percentage point less than before. This could affect 5.8 million borrowers.

Student loans are the No. 2 source of household debt. The president’s announcement came on the same day as a new report on tuition costs from the College Board. It showed that average in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges rose $631 this fall, or 8.3 percent, compared with a year ago. Nationally, the cost of a full credit load has passed $8,000, an all-time high. [Associated Press, 10/26/11, via ABCNews.com]

White House: “Obama Administration To Lower Student Loan Payments For Millions Of Borrowers.” In an October 25 press release, the White House outlined the Obama administration’s plan to help Americans “manage student loan debt.” The press release stated that the plan will “offer recent graduates an opportunity to consolidate loans and reduce interest rates.” From the press release:

Today, the Obama Administration announced it is taking steps to increase college affordability by making it easier to manage student loan debt. The announcement is part of a series of executive actions to put Americans back to work and strengthen the economy because we can’t wait for Congressional Republicans to act.

The Administration is moving forward with a new “Pay As You Earn” proposal that will reduce monthly payments for more than one and a half million current college students and borrowers.  Starting in 2014, borrowers will be able to reduce their monthly student loan payments to 10 percent of their discretionary income. But President Obama realizes that many students need relief sooner than that.  The new “Pay As You Earn” proposal will allow about 1.6 million students the ability to cap their loan payments at 10 percent starting next year, and the plan will forgive the balance of their debt after 20 years of payments.  Additionally, starting this January an estimated 6 million students and recent college graduates will be able to consolidate their loans and reduce their interest rates. [WhiteHouse.gov, 10/25/11]

Conservatives Attack Student Loan Relief Plan

Guilfoyle: Obama’s Student Loan Relief Plan Is “Campaigning, It’s Politics …. He Wants To Buy Some Votes Of The Youth.” During the October 26 edition of Fox News’ The Five, co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle suggested Obama’s plan to provide some relief to people with student loans was actually an attempt to “buy some votes of the youth.” From Fox News’ The Five:

GREG GUTFELD (co-host): Kimberly, I want to ask you, though. The real problem here is tuition. It’s not the loans. If the tuitions were lower you wouldn’t have this problem with the loans. But because you have the loans, the tuition goes up.  

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE: Right, but where’s the incentive then to lower the tuition? Some people in colleges and institutions, they like their money. But what this is about is campaigning, it’s politics, it’s 2012. He wants to buy some votes of the youth. It makes sense.

GUTFELD: Yeah.

GUILFOYLE: These are the people who were very popular, came out for him, supported his presidency. He needs them again. Even more so this time. So this a way to rally them kind of speak to the people that are protesting and the college students. [Fox News, The Five, 10/26/11]

Bolling: Obama’s Plan To Help Americans With Student Loan Debt Is An Attempt To “Buy The Young Vote.” During the October 25 edition of The Five, co-host Eric Bolling attacked Obama’s plan to help Americans consolidate and lower their payments on student loans after college before it was even announced. Bolling proclaimed the administration was attempting to “buy the young vote” and asserted that it “should be illegal.” [Fox News, The Five, 10/25/11

Lou Dobbs Claimed Obama’s Plan Offering Relief To Student Loan Recipients Is About “Getting Re-Elected.” In an October 26 Facebook post about Obama’s new student loan relief plan, Fox’s Lou Dobbs wrote, “this is more about getting re-elected than it is spurring economic growth.” [Facebook, 10/26/11]   

Perino Called Obama’s Announcement Of Student Loan Relief Plan A “Campaign Speech.” In an October 26 Twitter post, co-host for Fox News’ The Five Dana Perino wrote:

[Twitter, 10/26/11]

Hoft: “Obama’s Plan To Bailout Student Loan Recipients Is His Latest Attempt To Buy Votes At The Expense Of The American Taxpayer.” From an October 26 blog post on Jim Hoft’s Gateway Pundit blog: 

Obama’s plan to bailout student loan recipients is his latest attempt to buy votes at the expense of the American taxpayer. It also happens to be the latest move in his Cloward Piven strategy to destroy the US economy.

Free Obama Money for … special interest groups.

Obama announced a new plan today that will add billions to his record debt and erode the US economy by giving free money to students who borrowed their way through college.[Gateway Pundit, 10/26/11]

Student Loan Debt Is A Growing Burden

Data Shows Average Debt For Students Graduating From College Is Rising At A Staggering Rate. Data analysis by The Project on Student Debt found that the average debt for graduating seniors at public universities is$22,200 — 20% higher than in 2004.” The average debt for graduating seniors at private for-profit universities was “$33,050 – 23% higher than in 2004.” From the January 2010 study titled Quick Facts about Student Debt:

Average debt levels for graduating seniors with student loans rose to $23,200 in 2008 — a 24% increase from $18,650 in 2004.

In 2008:

• At public universities, average debt was $20,200 — 20% higher than in 2004, when the average was $16,850.

• At private nonprofit universities, average debt was $27,650 — 29% higher than in 2004, when the average was $21,500.

• At private for-profit universities, average debt was $33,050 — 23% higher than in 2004, when the average was $26,850. [The Project On Student Debt, Quick Facts about Student Debt, January 2010]

U.S. Department Of Education: Student Loan Default Rate At 8.8 Percent — The Highest It Has Been In More Than A Decade. The U.S. Department of Education announced in September that the latest national student loan cohort default rate is at “8.8 percent.” This is an increase from the 7.0 percent rate from the previous fiscal year, and is the highest rate in more than a decade. The cohort default rate is defined as “the percentage of borrowers who enter repayment in a fiscal year and default by the end of the next fiscal year.” From the announcement:

The U.S. Department of Education today released the official FY 2009 national student loan cohort default rate, which has risen to 8.8 percent, up from 7.0 percent in FY 2008. The cohort default rates increased for all sectors: from 6.0 percent to 7.2 percent for public institutions, from 4.0 percent to 4.6 percent for private institutions, and from 11.6 percent to 15 percent at for-profit schools.

The rates announced today represent a snapshot in time, with the FY 2009 cohort consisting of borrowers whose first loan repayments came due between Oct. 1, 2008, and Sept. 30, 2009, and who defaulted before Sept. 30, 2010. More than 3.6 million borrowers from 5,900 schools entered repayment during this window of time, and more than 320,000 defaulted. Those borrowers who defaulted after the two-year period are not counted as defaulters in this data set. [U.S. Department of Education, 9/12/11, accessed 10/26/11]


Abramoff Whistleblower Had More Creative Sentence In Mind For Kevin Ring

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2011 4:40 am by HL

Abramoff Whistleblower Had More Creative Sentence In Mind For Kevin Ring
The Native American lobbyist who says he brought the Jack Abramoff scandal to light says he disagreed with the judge’s sentencing of co-conspirator Kevin Ring to 20 months in prison.

Birther Oathkeeper Convicted In Attempted Courthouse Takeover
Georgia birther and Oathkeeper Darren Huff was convicted Tuesday of attempting to take over a Tennessee courthouse and conduct citizen’s arrests on officials.


Artur Davis, New Voter ID Convert, Donates To Republicans
Throwing his support behind his state’s voter ID law isn’t former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis’ only new hobby. He’s also started giving to Republicans.


Does Cain Really Have a Shot?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

Does Cain Really Have a Shot?
Nate Silver on Herman Cain’s presidential candidacy:

“Has there ever been a candidate with such strong polling but such weak fundamentals? Almost certainly not, at least not at this relatively advanced stage of the race.”

Perry May Skip Future Debates
Maggie Haberman reports that Rick Perry, who has not proven himself to be the most compelling performer in debates, may not attend any more Republican presidential primary debates after the upcoming debate in Michigan.

Said Perry spokesman Mark Miner, “I think all the campaigns are expressing frustration right now. We said we would do Michigan but the primaries are around the corner and you have to use your time accordingly.”

National Journal: “There appears to be consensus in the Rick Perry campaign that skipping some future debates may be the best strategy for the Texas governor.”


Oakland Police Violence Raises the Stakes for the OWS Movement

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

Oakland Police Violence Raises the Stakes for the OWS Movement
Despite the police’s inept, violent crowd control tactics, a number of protesters said they were steadfast in their goal of reclaiming the space.


Aid To Israel: Linkage, Linkage, Linkage

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

Aid To Israel: Linkage, Linkage, Linkage
In a column this week in the Washington Post, Prize-winning journalist Walter Pincus suggested that it’s time to re-examine U.S. aid to Israel. Israel, with a population of seven million, receives $3 billion a year from the United States while…

Father Mapple, Prophet Jonah, Ambassador Oren,
I was?privileged?to address the Harvard Hillel Worship and Study congregation during the Yom Kippur Torah service this past weekend. I decided to look again at the Book of Jonah in light of Ambassador Michael Oren’s sermon in Washington last year.?Services…


House GOP Releases Plan To Cut Corporate Taxes, Make Offshoring Jobs Easier

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2011 4:35 am by HL

House GOP Releases Plan To Cut Corporate Taxes, Make Offshoring Jobs Easier
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp (R-MI) today released his long-promised plan to overhaul the country’s corporate tax code. As he’s been hinting, the plan not only cuts the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, but also implements what’s known as a “territorial system,” which exempts U.S. corporations from […]

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI)

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp (R-MI) today released his long-promised plan to overhaul the country’s corporate tax code. As he’s been hinting, the plan not only cuts the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, but also implements what’s known as a “territorial system,” which exempts U.S. corporations from paying taxes on money they earn overseas.

Currently, U.S. corporations pay to the Treasury the difference between the tax rate of the country in which they earn money and the U.S. rate. (So money earned in a country where the rate is 25 percent would require a corporation to pay 10 percent — the difference between 35 percent and 25 percent — to the U.S.) However, corporations are allowed to defer paying their U.S. share of taxes until the bring the money back to the U.S., giving them every incentive to shift and keep money (and jobs) offshore.

Instead of fixing this problem, Camp’s plan to shift to a territorial system, as Citizens for Tax Justice explained, will make it even worse:

First, [under a territorial system] corporations would have a greater incentive to engage in profit-shifting, meaning practices used to disguise U.S. profits as foreign profits. A common example is the manipulation of transfer pricing to shift corporate profits into tax havens (countries that do not tax, or that barely tax, certain types of profits).

Second, corporations would have a greater incentive to shift actual operations — and jobs — to other countries.

Our current system already encourages these practices because U.S. corporations are allowed to “defer” their U.S. taxes on their offshore profits. But the incentives would be even greater under a territorial system, in which corporations would NEVER pay U.S. taxes on their offshore profits.

Camp said today during an interview that “the rest of the world has gone to a lower corporate rate and a territorial system of taxation. So our employers are really at a competitive disadvantage when they try to do business around the world.” However, governments with territorial systems are “having tremendous problems enforcing their existing international corporate tax rules, particularly the transfer pricing rules.” It’s such a problem, in fact, that “the European Union is considering moving away from the territorial system for determining how corporate profits are allocated among its member states.”

Camp has already proven that he is not concerned with actually having corporations pay taxes, saying that corporate tax dodging is all the more reason to cut the corporate tax rate. But U.S. corporations already pay the second-lowest taxes in the developed world and are sitting on record amounts of cash, so there’s little reason to slash their taxes any further.