Tag Archives: taxes

What it is ain’t exactly clear

In this edition: Okay, Buffalo Springfield, NOW I get it. Poor makers and rich takers. If we can’t pull them from their expensive cars and torch the cars while cheering in an unruly mob can we at least tax them appropriately?

For What It’s Worth

There’s somethin’ happenin’ here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Tellin’ me, I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speakin’ their minds
Gettin’ so much resistance from behind

I think it’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down

What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side

It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away

We better stop, children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down

— Written by Stephen Stills, Recorded by Buffalo Springfield (1967)

Okay, so that song is about Vietnam war protests, right? Err… sorry, no. What it is ain’t exactly clear.

Though often mistaken for an anti-war song, it was the first of the Sunset Strip Riots which inspired Stephen Stills to write For What It’s Worth. Sunset Strip Riots? From 1966 through the early 1970s a series of protests occurred in Hollywood. Music clubs like Pandora’s Box and Whiskey A Go-Go were drawing thousands–mostly students, many under 18. The resulting noise and traffic issues caused police to enforce a 10:00 curfew for teens under 18. The law had been on the books but was not usually enforced. The rock and rollers considered this an affront to civil liberties and gathered for a protest that got out of hand, resulting in arrests and property damage.

Now I have a better understanding of the second verse’s “nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong” and the third verse’s “mostly say hooray for our side.” I always wondered why the commitment was so diluted and that explains it, the cause was not as righteous as others of the time. This was about young rockers facing a curfew not civil rights or the Vietnam war.

In 1966 James Meredith, the first black to attend the University of Mississippi was shot while on a march through that State. Congress defeated the 1966 Civil Rights Bill that would have ended discrimination in home sales and rentals. It had only been two years since 3 civil rights workers had been lynched in Mississippi. In Vietnam, troop strength had escalated to 360,000 soldiers. More than 5,500 Americans were killed that year. In antiwar protests, 20,000 to 25,000 marched in New York, and demonstrations took place in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Oklahoma City and in other countries, Ottawa, London, Oslo, Stockholm, Lyon, and Tokyo. Hollywood youths being told to go home early, not so compelling.

LB_Rule

Media Matters sent me email with this striking quote:

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt

I found it was from FDR’s Second Inaugural Address  made on January 20, 1937.

So obviously this demonstrates Roosevelt’s Socialist leanings. At least, that’s the way conservatives read the statement. (I think we need a little more perspective than that.) First, look at the times he witnessed. Second, consider his own story. While growing up, Roosevelt was surrounded by privilege and the associated sense of self-importance. He was educated by tutors and governesses until age 14, and the entire household revolved around him as an only child. He went to the University, married, had children. Then, he was stricken with polio at the age of 39. This affected him to his core. Through great effort he rehabilitated himself to get some use of his legs. So I’m suggesting that this thought of being concerned with those who have too little is really simple empathy (or even Christian values) but applied to the domain of government. The empathy was surely part of his nature (seems unlikely that it suddenly appeared) but his own struggle and the extent of the hardships he witnessed in the Depression certainly contributed to his contempt for the bankers and barons who had put their personal quest for wealth ahead of the country’s economy and even survival.

This issue, government as the solver of social problems, lies at the heart of the conflict between social conservatism and social liberalism. Social conservatives simply do not believe that it is the role of government to assume responsibility for services provided through churches and other charities. Social liberalism believes in the government’s role is to solve big problems including those of citizens in hunger and poverty (justified by the phrase “promote the general Welfare” from the U.S. Constitution’s preamble.).

More recently, social conservatives have moved into the realm of religion (here and in northern Africa and the Middle East) and adopted the issue of abortion as a critical political concern. The ability of conservatives to simultaneously over-interpret the second amendment’s juncture that the militia could be armed to mean concealed carry without restriction while ignoring the first amendment’s demand to keep religious views out of governance is a little mind-boggling. The Constitution taken á la carte.

Roosevelt went on to say, “We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics.”

And this leads to:

Lefty Boomers Unified Theory of Politics and the Economy.

Point of View #1. The masses, their low success proving their lack of effort and ability, want free stuff. So they elect politicians that will give them free stuff. The free stuff must be paid for and the masses have little, so the industrious “makers” are robbed by the needs of the slothful “takers.” Obama won the election by promising Medicaid healthcare to low-income people, relaxed immigration policy for Latinos, free contraceptives for women, Food Stamps for millions, etc. This is the thrust of much of the conversation from the right after the 2012 elections–including defeated and humiliated but not humbled candidate, Romney.

Point of View #2. If you have wealth, you have the ability to begin to reform the law to give you more advantages. You can change tax laws, banking restrictions, anti-trust laws, avoid responsibility to keep air and water clean or externalize those costs to communities, and find various ways to poison Americans at profit. You can forge a Supreme Court that will say that corporations are people and money is speech so that the ability of money to influence politics becomes integral to the process.

So… one of these seems true, and one is not supported by fact.

Every single person in America gets benefits from the U.S. government. We get defended from invasion, we get roads to drive on, we get reasonably clean air to breathe, we get parks and schools and more. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to figure out that many, including those the conservatives might deem morally worthy, get plenty of stuff from the government. So that’s the first point–everybody gets something–perceived makers and takers alike.

Who gets more the wealthy or the poor? Consider this:  General Electric spends between $20 million and $40 million each year on lobbying. They lobby for changes to tax laws, win, and profit from it. In 2010, billions in profits, zero tax liability, and tax credits for things like wind turbines. We continue to hear that corporate taxes hurt American business at 35%. But few companies pay that rate. The GAO reports that the actual corporate tax rate overall is 12.6%. The next time somebody throws the 35% corporate tax rate at you, respond with oh no buddy, they actually only pay 12.6%.

Republicans passed the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 under GW Bush. It contained more than $13 billion a year in tax breaks for corporations, many very beneficial to G.E. Some provisions seemed tailored for the company, and according to its 2007 regulatory filing, the company saved more than $1 billion in American taxes because of that law in the three years after it was enacted. The Congressman on the House Ways and Means Committee that introduced the House version of the Bill was Bill Thomas, who the year before had an adulterous affair with a female lobbyist, she became a VP of Eli Lilly corporation, which steered huge amounts of money back to Thomas’ campaign fund. That year, pharmaceutical companies were blessed with  Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 which gave prescription drug benefits to Medicare recipients but prohibited the government’s ability to set the prices for those drugs (the way they do for hospitalizations and physician visits). She rewarded Thomas (in more ways than one), he rewarded Pharma, they rewarded her.

But moving away from the corporate benefits, wealthy individuals also do well. Warren Buffett famously pointed out that he pays a lower effective tax rate than his secretary. Carried interest is the skim that fund managers take from clients, and it’s taxed at the long-term capital gains rate of 15%, a 24.9% savings from the top rate. So Romney’s income of $22 million in 2010 would have paid another $5 million in taxes if the income was treated as ordinary income instead of sweetheart-deal-for-millionaire-hedge-fund-managers income.

Romney pockets $5 million, complains about those in the 47% who get a maximum of $2400 per year (individual maximum) for food from the SNAP.

Walmart is actively anti-union, wage suppressing, and supportive of conservative causes. They benefit to the tune of $500 million  SNAP dollars each year through payments for groceries. At the same time, because of Walmart’s low wages and benefits many of its employees are forced to turn to the government for aid, costing taxpayers between $900,000 and $1.75 million per store, according to a report released Congressional Democrats. So the recession took away the low- and moderately-skilled worker’s ability to get a decent paying job and many were forced to work at Walmart. Their wages qualify them for food assistance, utility assistance, and possibly Medicaid. At the same time the Forbes list reveals that six Waltons have a combined income equal to the total wealth of the entire bottom 30% of wage earners.

Is Medicare morally superior to unemployment? Why would it be? They are both programs that you pay into and benefit from when need arises. But conservatives tip-toe around Medicare (because their constituency is largely older and white–the Medicare demographic) but attack unemployment mercilessly. The mortgage interest deduction isn’t morally superior to food stamps, even though conservatives like one but not the other. One subsidizes food and one subsidizes housing. It’s good to provide incentives for home purchasing, but it’s better for the lenders as a quick check of a mortgage payment times the months in the term attest.

The entitlements to the poor don’t compare to the entitlements of the wealthy (while those in the middle get little and complain little). Meanwhile, the conservatives send enough money to Karl Rove to solve any number of social problems in order to keep someone they perceived as sympathetic to the poor out of office.

So how do we know who is the taker in this modern world? Well, maybe the 20% annual growth rate in food assistance proves that the lower end of the wage scale is growing while more wealth is held at the top that than at any time since the late 1800’s Gilded Age. The number taking SNAP isn’t the issue, it’s the number NEEDING SNAP! The privileges of wealth have never been greater. Their taxes have never been lower. Thanks to Citizens United they are now free to use money to make and break candidates while suggesting the way their employees should vote. While wealth and income gravitate to the top the share of company’s income that goes to labor has dropped 4.5% in the past 20 years.

If the median household income had kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would now be nearly $92,000, not $50,000. In the 1970s the top 1 percent received 8% of total income while today they receive 18%. Middle class income, adjusted for inflation, fell 7% in the past decade. The need for greed destroys our free market system because the workers can’t be good partners in the consumer sector.

The true takers are those that have the economic power to modify the system to benefit them. They cry about pennies to the poor while they push millions of dollars’ responsibility for operating the government onto the backs of their fellows. Enough never seems to be enough. Reiterating FDR’s point, “We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics.”

LB_Rule

More on this topic at Mother Jones’ 12 Charts to make your blood boil.

Okay rude cellphone user, we surrender. Read about the customer holding up the line who when confronted had the nerve to say, “Er, excuse me? I’m on the PHONE?”

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I’ve looked at life from both sides now. From win and lose…

Content: I got your JGTRRA and EGTRRA right here, buddy. Trying to work through what we know about the tax cuts for the rich (and everybody else) and what the options are. Joni Mitchell and I look at both sides now.

Both Sides Now

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now

From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As ev’ry fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

Written and Performed by Joni Mitchell (1969)

Okay. I was never a Joni Mitchell fan. Knew the songs and liked them, but it wasn’t my music. But my thoughts were wandering about how there is no denying that there are two sides to the tax changes and budget cutting associated with the fiscal cliff and this song came to mind. So I perused the lyrics over at JoniMitchell.com (a nicely designed site that includes an awesome database of her lyrics) and they touched my heart.

My emotions tend to be a little closer to the surface than many people. I think it’s from the 80s and early 90s when I was all about yoga and meditation etc. Maybe I was born that way. Maybe I’ve been working too hard. Maybe all of the above. I noticed it recently when I was getting all teary-eyed watching Undercover Boss Kat Cole hand out rewards to random Cinnabon people she’d run into. As I wiped my eyes I noticed my wife rolling her’s.

So it’s no wonder the song touched me. That metaphor of looking down at the clouds and imagining fanciful landscapes and looking up at the clouds grounded to the earth and the day-to-day struggles we face fits so well. Youthful optimism vs. the cynicism of experience, the excitement of new love vs. the reality of making relationships work, the dreams and promise we start with and the reality of working for a living are all encapsulated in Mitchell’s song.

It’s even surprising that the song was written by Mitchell at the age of 24 or 25 and shows the kind of wisdom associated with, well, people my age.  In a recent interview with the L.A. Times she showed some very heart-warming iconoclastic smart-assedness.

“My first four albums covered the usual youth problems — looking for love in all the wrong places — while the next five are basically about being in your 30s. Things start losing their profundity; in middle-late age, you enter a tragedian period, realizing that the human animal isn’t changing for the better. In a way, I think I entered straight into my tragedian period, as my work is set against the stupid, destructive way we live on this planet. Americans have decided to be stupid and shallow since 1980. Madonna is like Nero; she marks the turning point.”

So, stupid and destructive as we are, we refuse to get together for the kind of long-term meaningful re-evaluation of priorities and spending that is so completely and sorely needed. The so-called fiscal cliff is about a mix of things. First, the sequestration agreement that was forged to allow the US to raise the credit limit on its massive credit card. Then there are the Bush Tax Cuts, bills called EGTRRA and JGTRRA. 2001’s EGTRRA had many tax provisions, but included these changes to personal income tax:

Changes in Marginal Tax Rate Brackets by Year, 2000–10
Maximum Taxable Income (2000$) Tax Rate
Single Married HOH 2000 2001 2004 2006 2008
$5,679a $11,357 $8,112 15% 10% 10% 10% 10%
26,250 52,500 35,150 15 15 15 15 15
63,550 105,950 90,800 28 27 26 25 25
132,600 161,450 147,050 31 30 29 28 28
288,350 288,350 288,350 36 35 34 33 33
39.6 38.6 37.6 35 35

Not leaving well-enough alone, President Bush and Congress passed JGTRRA in 2003 making the final column’s rates available immediately.  So the REAL view is:

Maximum Taxable Income (2000$) Tax Rate
Single Married HOH 2000 TODAY
$5,679a $11,357 $8,112 15% 10%
26,250 52,500 35,150 15 15
63,550 105,950 90,800 28 25
132,600 161,450 147,050 31 28
288,350 288,350 288,350 36 33
39.6 35

Note that the second tier, where the median income is in America, got no reduction (although the 10% bracket was new so the lowest earners might have benefited provided they paid income tax after deductions). The next 3 (upper middle class) received 3%. The top tier, received 4.6%. That’s one reason why these have been portrayed as tax cuts for the rich, but other changes including the reduction of capital gains, elimination of the estate tax, removal of limits for certain deductions, and the reduced rate for dividend income was where the real benefits lay for the 1%.

Now the tax cuts are expiring. Why is that? Well, they got a 2 year extension from their 10 year lifespan in the debt deal that brought us sequestration. But why did the EGTRRA have a 10 year life span in the first place? For two reasons, the first is the Byrd Rule, a rule that allows Senators to block a piece of legislation if it significantly increases the federal deficit beyond a ten year period. The second is that longer term views would have raised a lot of attention for the astronomical reduction of tax revenue. The 10 years reduced revenue by $1.2 trillion. Since we were in deficit spending that whole time, it represents an additional $1.2 trillion borrowed.

Some (like me) believe that this wasn’t accidental. The Bush administration aimed to bring the US into such dire financial straits that massive government downsizing would be the ONLY alternative. That’s the starve the beast theory. Interestingly, googling around on this uncovered this CATO document that not only lays out Republican thought on the topic but shows with statistical analysis that it doesn’t work and that reduced revenue is likely to lead to higher expenditures.

So the two decisions Congress faces (and only Congress controls federal spending) are what to do with taxes (both the Bush cuts and the Obama temporary payroll tax cut) and what to do about the mandatory spending cuts that result from the sequestration agreement. The irony of it is that higher taxes and lower spending may result in a shrinking GDP (in other words, recession).

From Tony Nitti at Forbes:

While going over the cliff would improve our current deficit by adding net inflows, according to the people who are paid to project this sort of thing,  real GDP will drop by 0.5% in 2013 — meaning we would experience negative growth — and unemployment will rise to 9.1%. In other words, the fiscal cliff will kick-start a recession. The reasons why depend on which component of the cliff we’re talking about: the reduced spending or the increased tax revenue.

While reduced spending is good in the long run, when the government is spending less, the government is buying less. This shrinks the GDP.

So for starters, punt on the spending cuts. We need to approach governmental spending in a different way. Instead of justifying changes to the existing budget, agencies should be forced to justify all expenditures. That’s called zero-based budgeting and it couldn’t be done overnight.

Second, let’s have Congress agree what they want to accomplish with subsidies and test the current expenditures against those rules. For example, we want to increase exports so we should find the subsidies to do that. We don’t need to increase oil exploration because oil is such a valuable commodity in itself. So we shouldn’t subsidize that.

It’s a relatively small number and not really in the budget, but let’s get rid of the 2% payroll tax cut. That was a stimulus that only helped working people and was intended to be temporary. Let’s not mess around with the Social Security fund.

Let’s either leave the Bush tax cuts in place, or compromise on the Obama plan to let the top two rates go to pre-2001 rates. A compromise could be 2 years of 33% going to 35% and 35% going to 37%. The fairness would be that those tiers would align with the 2% reduction for others. Then take that time to simplify and create equity in the tax code with the aim of closing the gap between revenue and expenditure.

Finally, I don’t understand the argument that dividends should be taxed much less than regular income. I know the idea is that it promotes investment. Well if you haven’t noticed, investment is the best way for capital to grow and it doesn’t need an incentive. So at the minimum, let the long term capital gains and qualified dividend rates return to 20% from 15%. Carried interest, a technique used by investors to turn taxable compensation into capital gains, should be reevaluated if not abolished. The Buffet Rule would solve that. Similarly, lower corporate tax rates don’t create incentives for hiring, they create incentives for hoarding. If you’re going to pay a lot in taxes then you need to increase your expenses.

If you are using deductions to reduce your tax liability and you have taxable income in the neighborhood of $150,000 then you get a 28% break on that. If you make more than that, then the reward is higher at 33% or 35%. So the richer you are, the more your tax deductions pay off. Not so fair! Cap the deductions to 28% of income.

The CBO analyzed a few different scenarios here. In the end, austerity and expiration of  EGTRRA shrinks the economy. It seems unlikely that Congress will be able to come to a solution in the next month suggesting that a punt will happen and that it is probably the safest bet right now.

This has gone overlong so I don’t get to touch on a piece I wanted to do about the healthcare industry’s take on the reelection and removal of doubt about Obamacare. I’ll start working on that next for a post. I’d noticed that after the first Presidential debate when Romney was showing “Mo” the for-profit healthcare company stocks dropped. For all the  drumbeat of reduced access to care, not having enough doctors, death panels, and government interference in the market, the market sure has favored Obamacare at every turn.

In other news, Romney is the new Republican punching bag (along with Gov. Christie who probably stands to benefit in the long run by having had Sandy wash off the stench of the Republican’s 2012 election cycle debacle). That’s fun to watch. Big money donors might as well of given the money to the gardener or butler for all the good it did them. Roberto or Jeeves or Karl Rove, it was all the same in the end. The American people dodged a major bullet, as Romney doubled down on his 47% video with this tidbit from a call to supporters on November 14, “What the president — president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government.”

I can only reply, hey, where’s mine? But seriously, how arrogant and out of touch is that comment?

From the party of business to the party of stupid.

Coming soon: what healthcare business-people think of Obamacare. Third party candidates mean more people unhappy with the results.

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It’s just my craziness coming through…

Only You Know and I Know by Dave Mason

Only you know and I know
All the loving we’ve got to show
So don’t refuse to believe it
By reading too many meanings

We’re both here to be pleasing
Oh no, not deceiving
But it’s hard to believe in, aw yeah
When you’ve been so mistreated.

If I seem to mislead you
It’s just my craziness coming through
But when it comes down to just two
Aw, I ain’t no crazier than you

‘Cause you know that I mean what I say so don’t go
And never take me the wrong way
You know you can’t go on getting your own way
‘Cause if you do, it’s gonna get you someday.

(1970, Dave Mason)

Mason was a founding member of the group Traffic but moved in and out of the band as time went by. His bandmates felt that he didn’t want to write collaboratively and that he tended to show up with completed songs and give them parts as if they were his backing band. Interesting tidbit (sourced from the infallible – gulp – Wikipedia): One night Jimi Hendrix heard the Dylan song All Along the Watchtower at a party thrown by Dave Mason. He recorded his version that night with Mason on uncredited acoustic guitar.

So, Paul Ryan for Veep. That’s a pleasing pair. It’s almost as if David Axelrod was the selection committee. I had a flashback: an establishment candidate feels he had to appeal to a base he has already secured by virtue of not being the “other guy” and adds an unqualified zealot to the ticket. And she wore high heels and expensive outfits. And she pushed moderate Republicans and swing voters into the waiting arms of Mr. Barack Obama. I know nothing of Mr. Ryan’s private wardrobe, and he is marginally better qualified, but the outcome is the same. His extreme views about Randian social darwinism (survival of the fittest) and government-withering will make Republicans dismayed by the hard right turn of their party stay home and independents vote for Mr. Barack Obama.

It’s possible that the billionaires who anonymously fund the nonprofits like Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity forced Romney’s hand. They outspent SuperPACs in the 2010 elections and through the spring of 2012, 91% of the ads from independent groups came from nonprofits and big business trade groups. Or maybe it was just the advice of insiders that since he was beginning to slip in the polls (the more we knew him, the less we liked him) then a so-called attractive and charismatic running mate would help. To me, it was doubling down on the plastic. How much perfect coiffing can we endure? They’re both there to be pleasing, oh no, not deceiving.

My sense is that Romney comes across as uncomfortable because he doesn’t believe much of what he feels bound to say. Like “Guvmint” and the opportunistic attacks on the poor understanding of Obama’s “You didn’t build that.” Yet we can’t muster sympathy because he’s a grown man who chooses to debase himself appealing to the untraditional GOP base.

Speaking of David Axelrod, he emailed me IMMEDIATELY:

“Lefty,” he wrote. “This morning, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan stood on a platform in Norfolk, Virginia, and introduced themselves to the country as ‘America’s Comeback Team.'”

“‘Go Back Team’ would be more appropriate — because a Romney-Ryan administration is the definition of a fast track back to the failed, top-down economic policies of the past.”

“In Ryan, Romney has selected a running mate best known for designing the extreme GOP budget that would end Medicare as we know it, and — just like Romney’s plan — actually raise taxes on middle-class Americans to pay for an additional $250,000 tax break for millionaires and billionaires. As a leader of the House Republicans and a Tea Party favorite, Congressman Ryan has led the relentless, intensely ideological battle for these kinds of budget-busting policies that punish seniors and the middle class.”

And I think I’ve stumbled upon Axelrod’s battle plans and I’m sharing them with you!

Axelrod has been genius in making himself available for commentary wherever asked, even on FoxNews. He created a branding as political insider and strategist and now he can use that to sell his candidate. When he speaks, people listen. James Carville did much of the same thing but became a trifle over-exposed and therefore less effective. When you are featured in Family Guy episodes then you have probably jumped the shark.

The media has observed that for today, at least, the focus is on Ryan’s abs (P90x)  and blue eyes and not his budget plan. Remember the Path to Prosperity? Anyone? Reminder: Vouchers for Medicare costing seniors an additional $6,000 per year, Medicaid block grants reducing support for the indigent including women and children, and spending caps that ignore the need for extra spending in Recession, like the ARRA’s $800 billion that turned around 700,000 lost jobs per month. Ryan is one of those people who say the government should have no hand in owning national parks forgetting that they belong to we, the people, not them, the politicians.

Meanwhile, even the conservative press can figure out that Romney’s tax plan shifts $86 billion a year from those making over $200,000 to those making less than that. They also have figured out that the “courageous” and “visionary” Ryan budget punts the effects of the choices made downfield for the next generation to live with when they get to an age to say, “WTF, my parents got Medicare and all I get is this stinking means-tested voucher?” Romney assures us that taxes are too high for the American economy to prosper. Yet, they were higher when Mitt made his fortune at Bain. Government kills innovation and entrepreneurship, except not his ability to run a successful enterprise from 1984 to ~1999. How uncritical of people to blindly accept these premises when the Clinton years demonstrated that we could both grow the economy and balance the budget with the moderate progressive taxes then in place.

Huffington Post has Obama the winner for election 2012 (what, too soon?). See their electoral map here.

Romney praised healthcare in Israel for being 8% of GDP instead of our 18%. That’s what he wants to do here. Oops, Ezra Klein tells us how they do it: “Israel regulates its health care system aggressively, requiring all residents to carry insurance and capping revenue for various parts of the country’s health care system.” Not very Republican, I’d say.

“I don’t think right wing social engineering is any more desirable than left wing social engineering. I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.” — Newt Gingrich on the Ryan Budget Plan.

As Eric Idle taught us in the Olympics closing ceremony, sometimes we need to dial down our seriousness and sing along, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” But there’s one thing that can’t avoid seriousness. What is it? Click here to see and understand the full truth of the seriousness of Paul Ryan’s hair!

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