Friday, October 29, 2010

American Hero

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

They Just Don't Get It

video

Barney Frank Still Doesn't Get It

By Peter J. Wallison

It’s unusual for Barney Frank to create confusion. The outspoken chairman of the House Financial Services Committee usually doesn’t waffle about his positions—or what he thinks about other’s ideas—and he’s intelligent enough to see inconsistencies in his views.

So, as I waited to be interviewed on a TV show last August, I was surprised and pleased to hear Mr. Frank concede that he had erred: “I hope by next year we’ll have abolished Fannie and Freddie” he said, referring to the two government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), “... it was a great mistake to push lower-income people into housing they couldn’t afford and couldn’t really handle once they had it.” Then he added, “I had been too sanguine about Fannie and Freddie.”

I have been a long-term critic of Fannie and Freddie, and Congressman Frank had been their principal supporter in Congress. Not only did he now seem to be withdrawing his support, but he was doing it for the right reason. He had finally recognized, it appeared, that forcing Fannie and Freddie to make loans to people who could not really afford to repay them was not good either for the taxpayers (who will probably have to pay $400 billion to bail out Fannie and Freddie) or to the borrowers themselves.

Indeed, until that startling TV moment, it seemed that Barney Frank would never slacken in his effort to use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as a source of financing for loans to low income borrowers.

Beginning in 1992 and continuing through 2007, Fannie and Freddie were required to meet affordable housing goals established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. For most of these years, Frank was the staunchest defender of this policy.

An “affordable” housing mortgage was a loan made to a borrower who was at or below the median income in the area where the home was located. A special sub-goal also required the GSEs to make loans to borrowers who were at or below 60 percent of the median income. These requirements were gradually tightened over time, so that by 2007 55 percent of all mortgages Fannie and Freddie acquired had to be “affordable” under this standard.

There are only so many borrowers with good credit who are at or below the median income in the areas where they live, and there was a lot of competition for Fannie and Freddie.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a government agency, also needed loans to borrowers who were at or below the median income, and under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)—also beginning in the early 1990s— banks were required to make loans to borrowers who were at or below 80 percent of the median income in their areas. So there was a competition among all these entities to find low income borrowers who were willing to take out home mortgages, and by 2008 half of all mortgages in the U.S.—27 million, a completely unprecedented number —were subprime and other high risk loans. Of this total, the federal government was responsible—through Fannie and Freddie, FHA, and the CRA—for 19 million of these deficient and risky loans.

When the housing bubble started to deflate in 2007, these mortgages began to default at unprecedented rates, weakening the financial institutions that held them, forcing Fannie and Freddie into insolvency, and causing the financial crisis and the subsequent recession.

So imagine my astonishment when I heard Barney Frank admit that pushing low income people into home they couldn’t afford was a “great mistake.” I thought: well, there’s a testament to the power of democracy. Barney Frank was finally being seriously challenged for re-election, and this has caused him to rethink positions he had previously held inviolable.

But alas, it was not to be. On September 29, just before Congress recessed for the election, a few Democratic members of Congress introduced legislation that would extend the CRA to all financial institutions—not just banks. And Barney Frank declared that this bill would be his top priority in the lame duck session after the election.

This was very confusing. If Frank thought it was a “great mistake to push low income people into homes,” why would he favor extending the CRA to the entire financial system? That would mean insurance companies, auto finance companies, credit card firms and securities firms would be required to provide credit and other services—not just mortgages—to the same people who couldn’t afford to repay their mortgages.

Here’s my guess: despite my initial impression, Barney Frank actually doesn’t get it. Instead, his real views had only been imprisoned for the election. When the idea of extending CRA came along, they escaped.

Peter J. Wallison is the Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Financial Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute


I've always said, from the very beginning, who was responsible for the current economic crisis we find ourselves in. It wasn't Bush's fault. In fact, Bush and McCain  tried to head off the disaster and were thwarted by a Democrat Congress.

It was the policy started with Jimmy Carter, the CRA, which was reinforced under Clinton and then brought to the level of nearly science by people like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Angelo Mozilo, and yes, Barack Obama. The facts are all there; all you have to do is the research, and not very much of that, to find all this out.

 And, the motivation for all this wasn't altruistic in nature either. Providing homes to the poor was nothing more than a vehicle; the driving force was nothing more than greed, money and power.

We’re In Denial, America, About Our President

By Dr. Keith Ablow

The greatest gift of my training in psychiatry has been the ability my mentors nurtured in me to really listen to what people say. This is harder than it sounds.

It took me years to overcome the natural tendency to gloss over the very important things people say—the ones that might trigger anxiety or sadness or anger if focused upon clearly or at length.

This avoidance of hearing messages that people convey is a very human reaction when what they are saying is almost too big to take to heart.

The same dynamic explains why people fail to recognize predators even in the face of much data that they are unsafe, why they fail to hear the desperation in the words of a loved one who later goes on to commit suicide, why they fail to internalize expressions of genuine (and boundless) love from another person and why they fail to follow-up with questions about true revelations another offers about his or her deepest feelings and most powerful experiences.

It is as if the mind and soul are fitted with shock absorbers triggered only by the biggest bumps in the road—a kind of onboard, on call denial—so that special focus is required to register them.

I believe this internal shock absorber has prevented many Americans from really listening to the most significant messages President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have delivered.

One of these messages is that the Obamas are profoundly ambivalent about whether America and Americans have historically been a force for good or ill in the world. This is why the president has repeatedly apologized for America’s behavior, in a way that not only signals other nations that our leader is at best uncertain about our moral character, but may plant self-doubt about our decency in own population.

It is why the first lady honestly stated during the campaign that "for the first time in my adult lifetime" she was proud of her country.

It is why the president would remain in a church where the pastor has been quoted as saying, “God damn, America!” and would bring his children to that church to listen and learn.

These are not accidental facts. They are not meaningless. They encourage denial because they are so stark and so massive in scope that they make us not want to grapple with the inevitable conclusion that our country is being led by someone who isn’t so certain he likes his countrymen.

Another significant message from the president is that he is sincerely suspicious of businesses—large or small—unless those businesses are controlled by the government in a way that approximates government ownership of them.

This is what is meant by stating plainly that redistributing wealth is good, by teaching businesses to come to the trough to drink up bailout monies, by seeking oversight over which executives companies hire and how much they are paid and by burdening businesses with social agendas like “health care reform” and other red tape that can bring them to their knees.

Again, these are not accidental facts, nor meaningless. We can screen out the huge impact and import of them because they are almost unthinkable—constituting, as they do, this reality: Our commander-in-chief isn’t so sure he likes us, or our way of life. In fact, it certainly sounds, if you listen, to him, that he does not.

Americans are behaving a lot like the children I treat who grew up in homes in which their parents did not love them. They deny it. They do everything they can to believe, otherwise including wondering whether they themselves are to blame.

If we were deprived of denial, if we were willing to really listen and really be shocked, if we were willing to be wrong and wronged, we would have to admit that we elected a man to lead our country who just doesn’t express much love for it—or us.

Dr. Keith Ablow is a forensic psychiatrist.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why Do We Keep Ignoring the WikiLeaks Threat?

By Christian Whiton

On Friday, WikiLeaks again released a massive amount of classified information stolen from the U.S. government. This time is was 392,000 files about the Iraq war. In July, it was more than 70,000 controlled government documents about Afghanistan. More illegal disclosures are promised. What have Congress and the Obama administration done since WikiLeaks started this? Scandalously little as it turns out.

First and foremost, it is important to understand that this is a serious challenge to our national security. It’s not about government transparency or free speech, which is the claim WikiLeaks and its leader, a certain Julian Assange, are making.

Rather, this is an act of political warfare against the United States. WikiLeaks is a foreign organization that obtained these documents as a result of espionage and it means to use the information to thwart and alter U.S. policy. Mr. Assange said as much himself. He reportedly responded to a journalist’s question recently by e-mailing, “I’m too busy ending two wars.”

More correctly, he is busy getting the free world to lose two wars.

In addition to possibly getting some cooperating individuals named in these reports killed, this mass compromise of classified data will make it much harder to find people willing to cooperate with the United States. This will harm information-gathering that remains critical to our defense, whether it is being conducted by an Army sergeant in an insurgency area or a civilian U.S. intelligence officer in a hostile foreign capital.

So far, the Obama administration appears to have been asleep at the wheel in responding to this. The same is true of the Democratic-controlled Congress, which has no fewer than ten committees of jurisdiction that could be doing something about this—but which are not.

Here are some of the things the U.S. could do:

1. Indict Mr. Assange and his colleagues for espionage, regardless of whether he is presently in a U.S. jurisdiction, and ask our allies to do the same.

2. Explore opportunities for the president to designate WikiLeaks and its officers as enemy combatants, paving the way for non-judicial actions against them.

3. Freeze the assets of the WikiLeaks organization and its supporters, and sanction financial organizations working with this terrorist-enabling organization so they cannot clear transactions denominated in U.S. dollars.

4. Give the new U.S. Cyber-Command a chance to prove its worth by ordering it to electronically assault WikiLeaks and any telecommunications company offering its services to this organization.

5. Holding meaningful congressional hearings to look into how this much classified information could ever be compromised and how the U.S. can better identify and combat political warfare organizations like WikiLeaks.

Of course, none of this will happen unless President Obama and congressional Democrats start taking national security more seriously. The initial compromise of this much sensitive information is shocking by itself. But the intervening period of inaction is scandalous. While the Pentagon has done some damage control, it appears to have no help from the Obama White House, other government agencies, or the Congress.

How much will our information-collection capabilities have to be diminished, and how many of our friends and collaborators around the world must die, before President Obama and his friends on Capitol Hill start caring more about national security?

Christian Whiton is a former State Department senior adviser.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

America's Last Chance?

By Troy Senik

If, as expected, a new generation of economic conservatives join the ranks of the United States Congress in the wake of the upcoming midterm elections, they will face a momentous challenge: how to finally deliver on the promises of fiscal restraint that have so often eluded recent Republican majorities.

To do so, they will need to understand how past congressional failures have set us on the road to reckless spending and how dire the consequences will be if we don’t change paths soon.

In 1995, Congress came within inches of passing a Balanced Budget Amendment.

In that moment, we stood on the precipice of long-term fiscal responsibility. But the amendment failed -- by one vote.

By 2020, the total gross federal debt, including liabilities for Social Security and Medicare,-- is anticipated to reach 122 percent of GDP. Even without factoring in entitlement obligations, this will translate to a debt burden of more than $170,000 for every American family.

Apart from being fiscally unsustainable, this is a formula for economic decay. A recent study by Harvard University and the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that when the U.S. carries a debt burden greater than 90 percent of GDP, average economic growth is negative two percent. In any set of circumstances, this would lead to stagnation. But in the midst of the current economic downturn, it is a national suicide pact.

If this trend continues unbroken, the United States will find itself poised for the same kind of decline that has beset nations like Greece and states like California. But there’s still a limited window left for us to stave off disaster.

Any serious approach to our economic travails will have to tackle three issues simultaneously: the need for balanced budgets, the danger of tax increases during a time of recession and the prevention of an expansion of the nation’s debt load. The current national consensus for common-sense budget reforms provides leaders in Washington the impetus and the opportunity to address all three.

What’s needed is a Constitutional Amendment requiring 60 percent of the Senate and House of Representatives to vote in the affirmative for any piece of legislation that increases the debt ceiling, raises current taxes or imposes new taxes. The Constitutional Amendment should also require Congress to pass a balanced federal budget annually.

By embracing balanced budgets, these common-sense reforms embrace the legacy of the original Balanced Budget Amendment campaign of the mid-1990s. But they also recognize that balancing the federal ledger is a necessary, but not sufficient, step to getting our fiscal house in order.

Too many pundits treat the national debt as our great economic malady, not realizing that it is a symptom rather than the cause of our current malaise. The fundamental problem is the size of government. Every federal expenditure—whether paid for in the present or the future—is extracted from the productive private economy. Requiring only a balanced budget leaves Congress room to make up the government’s shortfall through higher taxes. But weakening the private sector’s ability to generate value is a recipe for increased stagnation, not an economic recovery.

The message from legions of taxpayers is abundantly clear: The budget should be balanced, the debt should be reduced, and the Congress should accomplish these ends by ceasing its reckless spending instead of by increasing taxes to compensate for its lack of self-control.

Fifteen years ago we missed our opportunity, by just one vote, to keep the U.S. economy on a path that could support consistent growth and prosperity. If we fail this time, the opportunity to right our course may not present itself again.

It’s time for the American people to use their vote and their voice to deliver one more vote for reform in Washington.

Troy Senik, a former White House speech writer for President George W. Bush, is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF), the organization leading the “One More Vote” initiative (www.OneMoreVote.org).

Monday, October 18, 2010

There Are No Atheists In Foxholes -- Or In Coal Mines

By Larry Gatlin

 It's said that there are no atheists in fox holes. I would add... or in a coal mine if you are there for 69 days.

"And JESUS was in the tomb for three days and on the third day the stone was rolled away."

The account of JESUS' RESURRECTION, is a remarkable story of a man, literally being "raised from the dead." To those in Christendom, the RESURRECTION is symbolic of the earthly salvation that turns miraculously into an eternal salvation in heaven with the RISEN LORD!!

The story has been told and re-told for the 20 centuries that have transpired from that resurrection at Jerusalem, in Israel, to this resurrection at the San Jose mine, in Chile.

This RIGHT NOW RESURRECTION is a miracle of almost Biblical proportions, and it is happening in front of our eyes -- in front of over a billion pair of eyes -- thanks to another miracle, at least to a simple man like me: satellite television.

Dear LORD, and I mean that in it's reverent context, how does satellite TV work?

Anyway, it was not lost on me, and I'm sure not on other Christians either, that every rescued miner, made the sign of the cross, looked heavenward, and thanked GOD for HIS mercy and protection.

My Spanish is very poor, at best, but there is NO doubt that the rescued miners, now known as "the 33", were expressing, not only their belief in God, but their praise, honor and gratitude for HIS MIGHTY HAND, at work in their RESURRECTION, from a rocky would-be grave, a half a mile down, under solid stone.

I think that it would be hard for anyone, "believer" or non- believer...anyone who was watching this event transpire, to miss the symbolism in The Miracle of the SAN JOSE MINE, as it unfolded in hi-def, for all the world to see.

What the world DID NOT see, was any folderol about the "separation of church and state."

What the world DID NOT see was a protest of any kind against the people "on the ground," or, in fact, under the ground, who were invoking GOD's blessing.

What the world DID NOT see was any protesting against the many references to prayers and GOD and DIVINE intervention, that SO INFURIATE a certain faction of our citizens in this, once MIGHTY, but now increasingly SPIRITUALLY BANKRUPT COUNTRY...AMERICA!!

What the world DID see, was a BRAVE, PRAYING PRESIDENT, Sebastian Pinera, who had the spiritual COJONES to "stay the course, fight the good fight, and run the race" against unbelievable odds, in order to be GOD's hands on earth, by putting all of the resources at his command, and by enlisting the help of the United States, and other countries, into trying to save his fellow Chileans and a couple of visitors, and in so doing, unite the whole of Chile, as ONE NATION UNDER GOD....sound familiar?

THERE USED TO BE ANOTHER COUNTRY THAT CALLED ON THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE, PROTECTION, AND PRESENCE OF GOD IN TIMES OF TROUBLE, BUT THOSE DAYS ARE LONG GONE.

Those days have had their own"near-death" experience. POLITICAL CORRECTNESS has eviscerated almost every vestige of the country that was once THE UNITED STATES... ONE NATION UNDER GOD.

I heard a rumor...I do not know whether or not it is true. But from a historical perspective, I have absolutely no trouble believing that it is true. The "story" is, that the ACLU has filed suit to make chaplains stop praying for the safety of our troops ON THE BATTLEFIELD!! I was also told by a good friend, who I trust explicitly, that it was true. I will look into it.

You know the old saying," if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck"...this "ACLU PRAYER THING REALLY LOOKS LIKE A CLASSIC DUCK DEAL," brought to you by those supreme haters of liberty, the "good folks" at the ACLU, who hide in plain sight, dressed as "the champions of liberty." Even if it is not true (if I find out that it is not true,I will issue a retraction and an apology)...even if it is not true, it sounds just like that bunch of "patriots"...don't you think?

But enough about that. Let's get back to the " story of the year" (or the decade) and to a GLORIOUS VICTORY... a VICTORY that could have morphed from victory to tragedy, in a CHILEAN MINUTE, IF THE CHAIN HAD BROKEN, IF THE RESCUE CARRIAGE HAD GOTTEN STUCK, IF ONE OF THE MINERS HAD PANICKED, IF THE WHOLE THING HAD CAVED IN ON TOP OF THEM...BUT THAT DID NOT HAPPEN, and after 69 days in "the tomb," the stone was rolled away, and 33 of GOD's CHILDREN, were lifted to safety, in what Shepard Smith has called their "CHILEAN CHARIOT."

They were lifted out of what was almost THEIR TOMB, into the arms of their loved ones, and in truth, into the loving arms of the entire world.

The thing that struck me?? THE FIRST THING OUT OF THEIR MOUTHS WAS PRAISE TO GOD...Their courage never wavered. Their strength never waned. Their sense of pride never faltered. Their loyalty to one another is now the stuff of legend....but through it all, it was their FAITH IN GOD THAT PULLED THEM THROUGH.

This HEAVENLY DYNAMIC WILL NOT BE COVERED BY THE "DRIVE BY MEDIA", or if it is, it will be downplayed so as to make "IT," incidental, at best.

Well, all I know is what I, and 1.2 billion of GOD's other children around the world saw, and heard.

One of "the 33" ( JESUS was 33 when he descended into "HIS" tomb so long ago) said, " I was in a fight between GOD and the DEVIL, and GOD WON. YES, GOD HAD A GOOD DAY.

We have all been blessed and treated to a glorious manifestation of ALMIGHTY POWER, LOVE, AND GRACE.

The world will long remember "the 33"... I wonder how long the world will remember their first words upon being resurrected from their tomb...GLORIA A DIOS!!

BY THE WAY, to my brothers and sisters who do not share the Christian faith, to you who practice another faith, or are atheists or agnostics, and even to you in the "drive by media"...WAIT...I apologize, AND I SINCERELY MEAN IT, I'M SORRY...TO YOU WHO ARE MEMBERS OF THE TRADITIONAL PRESS, I offer this...let us put aside old hurts, ancient prejudices, and long-cherished catechisms, for ONE DAY, AND SIMPLY REJOICE IN THE MIRACLE FROM THE MINE...THE RESURRECTION AT SAN JOSE.

Larry Gatlin is a writer and country music entertainer.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Tax Man Cometh

Read this before November’s elections.

"It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to lose it. If you think about that, you will do things differently"
-Warren Buffett

In just a couple of months, on January 1, 2011, the largest tax hikes in the history of America will take effect. They will hit families and small businesses in three great waves. On January 1, 2011, here’s what happens... (read it to the end, so you see all three waves)


First Wave:

Expiration of 2001 and 2003 Tax Relief
In 2001 and 2003, the GOP Congress enacted several tax cuts for investors, small business owners, and families.These will all expire on January 1, 2011. Personal income tax rates will rise.

The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which two-thirds of small business profits are taxed). The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent. All the rates in between will also rise. Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as highermarginal tax rates.

The full list of marginal rate hikes is below:

The 10% bracket rises to an expanded 15%

The 25% bracket rises to 28%

The 28% bracket rises to 31%

The 33% bracket rises to 36%

The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

Higher taxes on marriage and family.
The "marriage penalty" (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of income.
The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child. The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level. The dependent care and adoption tax credits will be cut.

The return of the Death Tax.
This year only, there is no death tax. (It’s a quirk!) For those dying on or after January 1, 2011, there is a 55 percent top death tax rate on estates over $1 million. A person leaving behind two homes, a business, a retirement account, could easily pass along a death tax bill to their loved ones. Think of the farmers who don’t make much money, but their land, which they purchased years ago with after-tax dollars, is now worth a lot of money. Their children will have to sell the farm, which may be their livelihood, just to pay the estate tax if they don’t have the cash sitting around to pay the tax. Think about your own family’s assets. Maybe your family owns real estate, or a business that doesn’t make much money, but the building and equipment are worth $1 million. Upon their death, you can inherit the $1 million business tax free, but if they own a home, stock, cash worth $500K on top of the $1 million business, then you will owe the government $275,000 cash! That’s 55% of the value of the assets over $1 million! Do you have that kind of cash sitting around waiting to pay the estate tax?

Higher tax rates on savers and investors.
The capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 20 percent in 2011.
The dividends tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 39.6 percent in 2011.
These rates will rise another 3.8 percent in 2013.



Second Wave:

Obamacare
There are over twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare. Several will first go into effect on January 1, 2011. They include:

The "Medicine Cabinet Tax"
Thanks to Obamacare, Americans will no longer be able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).

The "Special Needs Kids Tax"
This provision of Obamacare imposes a cap on flexible spending accounts (FSAs) of $2500 (Currently, there is no federal government limit). There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children. There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States , and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington , D.C. ( National Child Research Center ) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can not be used to pay for this type of special needs education.

The HSA (Health Savings Account) Withdrawal Tax Hike.
This provision of Obamacare increases the additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAsand other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.


Third Wave:

The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and Employer Tax Hikes
When Americans prepare to file their tax returns in January of 2011, they'll be in for a nasty surprise-the AMT won't be held harmless, and many tax relief provisions will have expired. The major items include:

The AMT will ensnare over 28 million families, up from 4 million last year.
According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center , Congress' failure to index the AMT will lead to an explosion of AMT taxpaying families-rising from 4 million last year to 28.5 million. These families will have to calculate their tax burdens twice, and pay taxes at the higher level. The AMT was created in 1969 to ensnare a handful of taxpayers.

Small business expensing will be slashed and 50% expensing will disappear.
Small businesses can normally expense (rather than slowly-deduct, or "depreciate") equipment purchases up to $250,000. This will be cut all the way down to $25,000. Larger businesses can currently expense half of their purchases of equipment. In January of 2011, all of it will have to be "depreciated."

Taxes will be raised on all types of businesses.
There are literally scores of tax hikes on business that will take place. The biggest is the loss of the "research and experimentation tax credit," but there are many, many others. Combining high marginal tax rates with the loss of this tax relief will cost jobs.

Tax Benefits for Education and Teaching Reduced.
The deduction for tuition and fees will not be available. Tax credits for education will be limited. Teachers will no longer be able to deduct classroom expenses.

Coverdell Education Savings Accounts will be cut.
Employer-provided educational assistance is curtailed. The student loan interest deduction will be disallowed for hundreds of thousands of families.

Charitable Contributions from IRAs no longer allowed.
Under current law, a retired person with an IRA can contribute up to $100,000 per year directly to a charity from their IRA. This contribution also counts toward an annual "required minimum distribution." This ability will no longer be there.

AND WORSE YET?

Now, your insurance will be INCOME on your W2's! One of the surprises we'll find come next year, is what follows - - a little "surprise" that 99% of us had no idea was included in the "new and improved" healthcare legislation . . . those who backed this administration will be astonished!

Starting in 2011, (next year folks), your W-2 tax form sent by your employer will be increased to show the value of whatever health insurance you are given by the company. It does not matter if that's a private concern or governmental body of some sort.

If you're retired? So what... your gross will go up by the amount of insurance you get. You will be required to pay taxes on a large sum of money that you have never seen. Take your tax form you just finished and see what $15,000 or $20,000 additional gross does to your tax debt. That's what you'll pay next year.

For many, it also puts you into a new higher bracket so it's even worse.This is how the government is going to buy insurance for the15% that don't have insurance and it's only part of the tax increases.

Not believing this? Here is a research of the summaries.....

On page 25 of 29: TITLE IX REVENUE PROVISIONS- SUBTITLE A: REVENUE OFFSET PROVISIONS-(sec. 9001, as modified by sec. 10901) Sec.9002 "requires employers to include in the W-2 form of each employee the aggregate cost of applicable employer sponsored group health coverage that is excludable from the employees gross income."


People have the right to know the truth because an election is coming in November. And, elections have consequences. Make your vote count... and let your voice be heard.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Can You Keep Absorbing the Pain Obama Inflicts On Us?

By Jon Kraushar
 Every American president ends up owning one word or phrase that tends to define him. Kennedy had “Camelot.” Johnson had “Great Society.” Nixon was “Watergate.” Ford was “Pardon.” Carter was “Malaise.” Reagan was “Shining city upon a hill.” George H.W. Bush was “Thousand points of light.” Clinton was “Slick.” George W. Bush was “Dubya.”

Barack Obama’s words have been “Hope and change.” But shortly before the midterm elections, we’ve heard another word association with Obama that may be more fitting.

In Bob Woodward’s book, “Obama’s Wars,” President Obama is quoted as saying, "We can absorb a terrorist attack. We'll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger."

Obama’s key word is “absorb.” He sees America getting stronger to the extent that it can “absorb” pain—crises, loss, costs and consequences.

We have seen Obama’s “absorb the pain” philosophy and policies in service of what he contends will make the country stronger.

Beginning with his nearly trillion-dollar stimulus, his hundreds of billions in bailouts, and his record-setting debt, the president insisted that the country needed to “absorb” all his spending and government intervention to cure massive unemployment and an economic meltdown. Today, America is deep in joblessness and unsustainable debt and is still deeply mired in an economic stall.

Then came the need for the nation to “absorb” the reconstruction of its health care system with Obamacare as the president’s prescription. That was followed by Obama’s crusade for the free market to “absorb” an overhaul of financial regulations. Never mind that in both cases, costs, competition, choices, and other adverse effects have been grossly misrepresented by the president and his allies.

Now, the president has left all Americans to “absorb” the prospect that because Democrats wouldn’t vote to extend the Bush tax cuts, everyone’s taxes are scheduled to go up next year. If the president has his way, the nation will also need to “absorb” the following:

• Record tax increases on energy if Obama’s “cap and trade” bill passes.

• Millions of illegal immigrants. Is Obama planning some kind of amnesty next and what about border security?

• A nuclear Iran. While Obama blusters, the dangerous and demented leaders of Iran build their nuclear capability and mock the United States.

• The job-killing and bankrupting effects of union demands. Obama’s enabling of outrageously high pension, pay and other sweetheart deals for unions buys him union votes and buys America economic pain.

• Continuing seizure of states’ rights and individuals’ rights by a statist government. On just about any issue—including spending, taxing, health care, education, the environment and illegal immigration—Obama’s big government encroaches on laws and decisions best made by individual states (see the Constitution’s 10th Amendment) and individual citizens (see the Bill of Rights).

• The abuse by terrorists of America’s democratic systems. Obama’s Justice Department grants terrorists captured domestically the “right to remain silent” and fights to give them civilian rather than military trials.

• Apologies, appeasements, aid and arms to foreign foes. Physically, financially, militarily and in every other way, Obama has bowed to America’s adversaries such as Saudi Arabia and China.

• Corruption by elected or appointed officials. This includes our tax cheat Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. It extends to loan scandals involving Democratic Senators Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Kent Conrad of North Dakota and also encompasses ethics investigations into Democratic Congress Members Charlie Rangel of New York and Maxine Waters of California.

Bill Clinton claimed to feel our pain. Barack Obama wants us to absorb the pain he inflicts on us for what he believes are higher purposes and a stronger America. If you vote in the November midterm elections, consider whether you prefer to "absorb" or reject the pain Obama keeps dishing out.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Expiration of Bush Tax Cuts: How Will It Affect You?

By Joshua Rhett Miller

Benjamin Franklin wrote that "nothing is certain but death and taxes," but that is only half-true. There is absolutely nothing dead-certain about taxes this year.

Unless Congress acts soon, almost all of the "Bush tax cuts" and credits that were enacted in 2001 and 2003 will expire at the end of this year. Most financial analysts and Washington insiders say they don't expect that to happen. But if it does, you -- the American taxpayer -- are in for a tax hike. A big one.

Here's what it will mean to you:

-- The standard percent rates -- the baseline percentage of your income that goes to the government -- will universally rise, at an estimated cost of roughly $157 billion annually; from 10 percent to 15 (for lowest-income earners), from 25 percent to 28, from 28 percent to 31, from 33 percent to 36, and from 35 percent to 39.6 percent (for highest-income earners).

-- Indexing of the alternative minimum tax (AMT), which ensures that taxpayers who benefit from itemized reductions and/or credits pay a separately calculated minimum tax, will expire.

-- Taxes on capital gains and dividends will increase, potentially costing investors an estimated $35 billion annually.

-- Married couples who saw their standard deduction raised to that of double the single amount will go back to paying higher rates, at a cost of roughly $32 billion a year.

-- Expanded tax credits like the child tax credit, which previously increased to $1,000 from $500, will expire, costing American families an estimated $26 billion a year.

-- The already-expired estate tax would revert back to 2009 levels, translating to a minimum estimate of $26 billion to heirs and heiresses.

-- The personal exemption phase-out (PEP), which allowed high-income filers to deduct the full value of their personal exemptions and itemized deductions, will expire, potentially costing wealthy households about $21 billion.

"As a general matter, everybody is affected, maybe except for certain seniors," said Chuck Marr, director of federal tax policy for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "All taxpayers have something at stake."

For the family of four bringing in a combined income of $75,000, the expiration of all Bush-era tax cuts will amount to a tax increase of $2,143 next year, according to the Tax Foundation's 2011 Income Tax Calculator.

A family of four earning $150,000 would see its income tax burden increase by $4,510 to $23,150, according to the Tax Foundation.

Single filers, meanwhile, would see their taxes rise by $605 at the $50,000 income plateau and by $1,355 at $75,000. A single filer earning $150,000, including $15,000 in long-term capital gains, would pay an extra $3,269, with a total tax liability of $28,340.

A single parent of one child earning $25,000 would see his tax liability rise by $955, decreasing his tax refund of $1,856 to just more than $900. A low-income family of five earning a total of $45,000 would see their taxes increase by $2,538, equating to a total tax liability of $1,028.

An upper-middle income family of four with two earners pulling in $150,000, including $15,000 in long-term capital gains, would see their taxes increase by $3,802. That family's total tax burden? Roughly $21,600.

A high-income family of four, meanwhile, with a combined income of $300,000 and $20,000 in itemized deductions, would see their taxes jump by more than $11,000 if Congress allows all of the Bush-era tax cuts to expire. That equals a total tax liability of $68,392.

For even higher earners -- such as a married couple with no children making $420,000 in total income and with $20,000 deductions apiece for state and local taxes, mortgage interest and charitable contributions -- that total tax liability grows to $106,815, or an increase of more than $16,600 from 2010.

Further up the income ladder, a married couple earning $700,000 in wages with $300,000 worth of long-term capital gains and qualified dividends and $95,000 in deductions for mortgage interest and state/local income taxes would see their tax share grow by $61,206.

Finally, a retired married couple with a combined income of $60,000 -- including $10,000 in qualified dividends, $25,000 in Social Security benefits and $10,000 in 401(k) distributions -- would see their tax liability increase by $2,676.

"If all the tax cuts expire, everyone stands to lose," said Mark Robyn, a staff economist for the Tax Foundation. "A lot of people like to paint the Bush tax cuts as having only benefited the rich, which is not true -- you can simply look at the estimates."

Citing estimates from the Office of Management and Budget, Robyn said letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire only for high-income people would raise $630 billion over 10 years, compared to $3 trillion during the same period if all the tax cuts were to expire.

Robyn said one of the biggest tax cuts for middle-income earners was the creation of the 10 percent bracket, which will rise to 15 percent if Congress doesn't act. He also cited the significant impact of doubling the child tax credit to $1,000. That, too, will expire unless a compromise is reached in Washington.

"That's a pretty significant tax cut," Robyn said. "If that were to go back, I think a lot of people would feel that. That's a dollar for dollar decrease in your tax liability."

What ever happened to the concept of not kicking a guy who is already down? This country is still on its back from the recession, and these idiots in Congress, who oppose extending the Bush tax credits, are hovering over us with hob-nailed boots ready to stomp us into jelly. And, even if they extend the tax credits before the end of the year, the IRS has already published the filing schedules, which at least for January means we will be taxed at the higher rates. Supposedly, if they pass the extension, somewhere down the road we're somehow supposed to get it back (yeah right).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Your Tax Dollars at Work

The Oklahoma City public school district is taking a second look at a plan to teach at-risk students using rap and hip-hop after receiving complaints over one lesson referring to the Founding Fathers as "old dead white men."


The program, known as Flocabulary, is an educational tool that uses rap and hip-hop music to help students learn and memorize basic principles of vocabulary, reading, writing, social studies, math and science. The district was authorized to spend $97,000 in federal funds on the program and has already spent $10,000, NewsOK.com reported.

But lyrics in the U.S. history curriculum drew complaints from about 15 teachers, the site reported.

One particularly controversial song entitled "Old Dead White Men,"describes President James Monroe's presidential term by saying: "White men getting richer than Enron. They stepping on Indians, women and blacks. Era of Good Feeling doesn't come with the facts."

The song goes on to say:

 "Andrew Jackson thinks he's a tough guy. Killing more Indians than there are stars in the sky. Evil wars of Florida killing the Seminoles. Saying hello, putting Creek in the hell holes. Like Adolf Hitler he had the final solution. 'No, Indians, I don't want you to live here anymore."

Flocabulary CEO and co-founder Alex Rappaport says that the lyrics are meant to keep students engaged and promote discussion. According to the Flocabulary website, its programs are being used in more than 10,000 schools nationwide and are "proven to increase student motivation."

“Without engagement and motivation it’s very difficult to learn, so our main purpose is to create materials that will motivate the students that are least likely to succeed with traditional methods,” Rappaport told FoxNews.com.

Ed Allen, president of the Oklahoma City American Federation, says in some cases those lyrics may do more harm than good.

"I just don't think we were real careful where we deployed it," Allen told NewsOK.com. "Not all parts of it are real affective for the more troubled youth."

Rappaport says Flocabulary isn’t meant to be offensive; it’s meant to get students thinking and initiate meaningful discussion.

"We have about 15 different programs, and on that U.S. history program we have about 12 songs and these are the lyrics that can be considered the most thought-provoking or provocative out of our whole body of work," Rappaport says.

"What I want is a student to hear a line about Andrew Jackson and be so engaged by the way we’re presenting Andrew Jackson that they go back, open the text book and read the entry about Andrew Jackson…and ask their teacher and have a discussion about Andrew Jackson," he added. "The songs are meant to be the beginning of the discussion, not the end."

Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Karl Springer told NewsOK.com, "The science behind the concept is wonderful," but out of concern for some of lyrics, the district is holding off on the program until it's been evaluated.

If this isn't a good reason to scrap the Department of Education and the concept of goverment run schools, I don't know what is.

Judge Bans Key Witness From Gitmo Detainee's New York Trial

The judge in the first civilian trial of a Guantanamo Bay detainee barred the prosecution's star witness Wednesday from testifying, dealing a major setback to the government's effort to build criminal cases with evidence obtained through use of enhanced interrogation techniques.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said the witness could not take the stand because investigators learned of his existence through coercive questioning of the defendant, terrorism suspect Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani.

The ruling stunned prosecutors, who asked for and received an immediate delay in the case while they decide whether to appeal. It also re-energized the debate over whether terrorism suspects captured overseas should be prosecuted in civilian courts and whether the American justice system is up to the task.

Despite the setback, Attorney General Eric Holder said at a Washington news conference that he remains confident the Justice Department can successfully prosecute Guantanamo detainees in civilian court.
 The delay came during the final selection of jurors in the case against Ghailani, a Tanzanian charged in the 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa. The twin attacks killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans.

The man who was supposed to be the government's star witness, Hussein Abebe, said he sold explosives to Ghailani that were used in the bombing. But defense lawyers said prosecutors never would have learned about Abebe if Ghailani had not divulged his identity while undergoing interrogations.

Michael Farkas, a former Army judge advocate and now a civilian attorney, said the ruling shows why those backing military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees contend that "civilian criminal courts are no place for war criminals." He said the military rules of evidence do not give defendants some of the protections they are afforded in the civilian justice system.

"In a military tribunal, this witness would not have been precluded," Farkas said.

Anthony S. Barkow, executive director of the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at the New York University School of Law, called the ruling "a significant blow" to prosecutors.
The ruling "will certainly be cited in arguments relating to future decisions as to where to try these cases," said Barkow, a former federal terrorism prosecutor in New York City who later observed Guantanamo proceedings for a human rights group.

Human Rights First's Daphne Eviatar, who is monitoring the trial for the organization, said Kaplan's ruling recognizes that evidence derived through enhanced interrogation methods is inadmissible only strengthens the view that civilian federal courts, not military commissions, can best handle difficult terrorism cases.

Ghailani was smiling after the judge ruled.

There was little controversy when Ghailani was brought to New York for trial in 2009, but the subject of where to try Guantanamo Bay detainees became heated after Holder announced last November that the professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others would be tried blocks from where the World Trade Center stood. Holder later said he was reconsidering.

Ghailani is accused of being a bomb-maker, document forger and aide to Usama bin Laden. He is charged with conspiring in the 1998 bombings in Tanzania and Kenya.

Prosecutors had repeatedly called Abebe's testimony vital to their case.

But the judge said Abebe was identified and located as a "close and direct result of statements made by Ghailani" while in custody. He noted the government had decided not to contest the details of Ghailani's treatment and had told the judge to assume that everything Ghailani said while in custody was coerced.

Though many of the details about his treatment have been kept secret, the defense divulged during a pretrial hearing that he was subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques for 14 hours over five days. After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, interrogators used methods, including waterboarding, against select detainees.

The judge previously rejected a defense request to throw out the charges because of Ghailani's treatment at the hands of interrogators.

This only proves two things: Number one is that Mr Holder was wrong about the government's ability to bring terrorists to justice by trying them in civilians courts, treating them like common criminals, rather than as war criminals. This is just another demonstration, in a long list, of how inept this administration is at dealing with the rigors of running a country. Number two is that this disproves the notion, from bleeding heart liberals, that enhanced interrogation techniques don't provide intel that is correct and that could possibly save lives. In this case, it shows that this terrorist scum gave up the name of a witness who corroborated this bastard's role in slaughtering 224 people, including a dozen Americans. If Mr. Holder had been in charge of the Nuremberg Trials, at the end of WWII, we would have had a lot of Nazis walking around free for the last 60 or so years.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mr. Biden, the Stimulus Program Has Only Postponed the Day of Reckoning

By Liz Peek

Can you strain muscles by too aggressively patting yourself on the back? If so, the Obama administration must be stocking up on liniments. Not only is President Obama on TV almost daily extolling his team’s accomplishments, Vice President Joe Biden reported on October 1 that the stimulus program was a feat of government efficiency.

Imagine if your kid came home from school proudly displaying an A+ report card. You’d be impressed, right? Maybe not so much when you discover he produced it himself during recess.

Mr. Biden, of course, has been in charge of dispersing the Recovery Act monies; prepare for a positive assessment. The report crows that there have been few instances of outright fraud, that the money headed out the door in a timely fashion, and that few complaints have been lodged about the projects that were undertaken.Unfortunately, the report apparently ignores entirely the stimulus program’s shortcomings.

Though the injection of hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy did in fact marginally lift incomes and spending, it failed to produce as many jobs as originally anticipated, and did not provide a long-lasting boost to the economy. Moreover, it barely nicked the nation’s sagging infrastructure.

A fairer assessment might note that funds from the program were distributed quickly -- mainly because $242 billion were in the form of tax cuts (which can happen overnight) and another $232 billion was simply doled out to ailing state governments. Since decades of abusive labor union agreements have lengthened the list of candidates in the latter category, that giving, too, could happen seamlessly. That doesn’t mean it was positive.

If there is any positive residue of the current recession, it might be that state and local governments will be forced to tackle their unsustainable public employee payrolls. Taxpayers are wising up to the excessive handouts made to placate public employee unions over the past several decades.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, for instance, has tapped successfully into a well of resentment over sky-high retirement packages and bloated payrolls. He has even dared take on the teachers’ unions – an impressive and necessary political gamble.

When incomes were climbing, homeowners were not so resistant to hikes in property taxes justified for “investments” in local schools; today they tend to be crankier, and want to see results. Steve Malanga reports in his excellent book “Shakedown” that in California, employee pension costs soared 22-fold from $160 million in 2000 to $3.6 billion in 2010. As a result, the state is virtually bankrupt; they are not alone.

Unfortunately, the stimulus program has postponed that day of reckoning. In the latest quarter, by far the largest number of jobs was “created or saved” at the Department of Education – 454,000 – and the largest single program was the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, Education State Grants, which accounted for 267,000 jobs.

In fairness, layoffs at the state and local level have been a drag on the economy, and the impact would have been worse but for the stimulus payouts. However, the crushing weight of pension and health obligations on state governments needs to be lightened. That the Obama administration is reluctant to help do so is not surprising. Unions representing state and local workers have been among the biggest rainmakers for Democrats.

Between 1989 and 2010, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union, the second largest campaign donor in the country, gave out $42 million, 98% of which went to Democrats. The National Education Association handed out $31 million, 93% to Democrats, and the American Federation of Teachers funneled 98% of their $28 million in donations to Democrats.

These figures are the tip of the iceberg and don’t include voter mobilization drives, which favor Democrats, and other goodies. Stimulus payments to states to keep their teachers and other employees on the payroll keep that ball rolling.

Vice President Biden’s report also extolled the lack of fraud in the program. It didn’t dwell on stupid handouts, which might strike taxpayers as just as wasteful. In the understandable haste to get money into the nations’ bloodstream, numerous projects received funding which are downright silly.

Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn have been chronicling the nuttiest programs, including researching exotic ants in the Indian Ocean or creating computerized choreography; new stories continue to roll in. Recently Bianca Premo, an associate professor, was astonished to find she’d received a $59,000 grant from the Recovery Act to study litigious behavior in colonial Peru.

Ultimately, the Recovery Act did some good, and like most government projects, also produced some expensive and comical results. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of the money seems to have supported important technology or infrastructure with lasting value. Also, the cost per job remains high.

A month from now, Americans will put an election-day price tag on the stimulus program. It may turn out to have been very costly – at least for Democrats -- after all.

Liz Peek is a financial columnist who writes for The Fiscal Times.
 



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