Tag Archives: tim griffin

Brummett is wrong, America has exceptional principles!!!

Max Brantley loves to attack “American Exceptionalism” and I love to defend it. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger opens this clip of Milton Friedman’s film series “Free to Choose” with a statement that contrast the socialist country he came from to the freer society in the USA where he came to live in 1968. I am going to post several video clips from this film series that will demonstrate that our country allowed free enterprise to flourish without excessive government controls.

Jason TolbertMax Brantley and John Brummett all wrote interesting articles on the issue of American Exceptionalism during the fall after Tim Griffin and Joyce Elliott discussed the subject during the campaign.

I don’t think we are exceptional because of our people, land or resources. It must be because of two principles that have existed in this country for many years.

First, our country was founded on a reformation base. Francis Schaeffer pointed out in his film series, “How should we then live?” episode 5 on the Revolutionary Age: “As the reformation emphasis, that the Bible is the only final authority, took root the ordinary citizen was increasingly freed from arbitrary governmental power.”

Sadly our country has allowed humanism to take away many of the freedoms that our founding fathers meant for our country to have including prayer in schools. Did you know that 29 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence had seminary degrees? Futhermore, over 90% of the 250 original founding fathers claimed to be Christians according to their own writings.

Second, our country allowed free enterprise to flourish without excessive government controls. That was because the founding fathers saw the government as a necessary evil and not a positive force to be interfering with our lives.

This article today is the beginning of a series that I will be starting on the true secret behind the American Exceptionalism in our past. There is no denying that it existed in the past. Take a look at page 976 of the book A History of the American People by Paul Johnson (1997):

It is appropriate to end this history of the American people on a note of success, because the story of American is essentially one of difficulties being overcome by intelligence and skill, by faith and strength of purpose, by courage and persistence. America today, with its 260 million people, its splendid cities, its vast wealth, and its unrivaled power, is a human achievement without parallel. That achievement–the transformation of a mostly uninhabited wilderness into the supreme national artifact of history–did not come about without heroic sacrifice and great sufferings stoically endured, many costly failures, huge disappointments, defeats, and tragedies. There have indeed been many setbacks in 400 years of American history. As we have seen, many unresolved problems, some of daunting size, remain. But the Americans are, above all, a problem-solving people. They do not believe that anything in this world is beyond human capacity to soar to and dominate. They will not give up. Full of essential goodwill to each other and to all, confident in their human decency and their democratic skills, they will attack again and again the ills in their society, until they are overcome or at least substantially redressed. So the ship of state sails on, and mankind still continues to watch its progress, with wonder and amazement and sometimes apprehension, as it moves into the unknown waters of the 21st century and the third millennium. The great American republican experiment is still the cynosure of the world’s eyes. It is still the first, best hope for the human race. Looking back on its past, and forward to its future, the auguries are that it will not disappoint an expectant humanity.

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Francis Schaeffer does a great job in three 9 minute clips of showing how the USA was founded on a reformation base. Here is the first clip:

Crowd at Occupy Arkansas pales in comparison to annual pro-life march

Demonstrators march through the streets of Little Rock on Saturday in a protest organized by Occupy Little Rock. (John Lyon photo)

Occupy Arkansas got cranked up today in Little Rock with their first march and several hundred showed up. It was unlike the pro-life marches that I have been a part of that have had crowds of up to 10,000 people in Little Rock every January.

Here is a post that I did back in January on the pro-life march:

Rep. Tim Griffin and Lt. Gov. Mark Darr at the Arkansas March for Life in Little Rock from Tolbert Report.

Go to Fox 16 website and you will read this story below and watch a video clip on both marches. What you will not read is the fact that only 150 people showed up for the pro-choice march on Jan 22, 2011 while over 5000 came out for the pro-life rally the following day. In fact, on the video the reporter notes, “A similar scene on Saturday..” The reporter summarizes, “Both pro-choice and pro-life rally organizers say they were pleased with the crowd their events drew.” In the article on the website are these words, “Both pro-life and pro-choice rally-goers came out strong, equally passionate about their beliefs.”

Read this info below from the Fox 16 website:

LITTLE ROCK, AR – Thousands of Arkansans marched near the Capitol this weekend to make their voices heard. Saturday it was those in favor of a woman’s right to choose. Sunday, pro-life supporters gathered for the 33rd Annual March for Life. Both pro-life and pro-choice rally-goers came out strong, equally passionate about their beliefs.Lauren Long is pro-life and says, “I’m 16 today because my mom chose life and I’m really proud of that.”Politicians, doctors, religious leaders and even the famous TV family from Arkansas, the Duggar’s, came out for the Right to Life March. Jill Duggar says her family is a prime example of what it means to be pro-life. “Life is precious and a lot of people don’t understand the significance of it. It’s not just a ball of tissue, it’s a baby from the very start.”Dr. Matt Sellers is an OB/GYN with the Cornerstone Clinic for Woman. He says, “Every unborn life is a treasure that should be treated as such.”Congressman Tim Griffin also attended Sunday’s pro-life rally. He says, “We need to respect life and all our policies in the way we treat other people, and the way we think about public policy, we need to think about life.”Pro-choice rally-goers lined the steps of the Capitol on Saturday. Senator Joyce Elliott spoke to the crowd. “Trust women, show respect for women and the choices they make.” Senator Elliott also added, “It’s in our national and economic best interest to make sure women have the choice of good healthcare services.”Stephanie Oshrin, with the National Organization for Women says, “We believe every person has a right to choose their family and plan their family. We advocate strong, healthy women, and happy children.” Oshrin also mentioned, “We’ve made monumental gains over the last decade, however we recognize with all the gains, we still have many struggles that we will continue to fight for.”

Both pro-life and pro-choice rally organizers say, they’re pleased with the crowd their events drew, and hope to continue to spread their messages long after these rallies are over. Both rallies were peaceful and respectful, and while police were present at both events, there have been no reports of any problems. Both crowds drew larger numbers than last year.

This weekend’s rallies coincide with the 38th anniversary of the landmark Roe versus Wade case which legalized abortion. In a statement Saturday, President Obama says, he’s committed to protecting a constitutional right to choose. Obama says, he’s committed to policies preventing unwanted pregnancies, supporting pregnant women, and promoting adoption.

Related posts:

Occupy Wall Street vs. Steve Jobs

COUNTER-DEMONSTRATION: At Kappa Sigma house in Fayetteville. The Drew Wilson photo above went viral last night — at least in Arkansas e-mail and social media users — after the Fayetteville Flyer posted it in coverage of an Occupy Northwest Arkansas demonstration in Fayetteville. The 1 percent banner was unfurled briefly on the Kappa Sigma frat [...]

Big Bad Wall St Corporations

I found this article interesting from the Wall Street Journal: OCTOBER 10, 2011 The Corporate Exec: Hollywood Demon Nazis are getting old, moviemakers don’t want to offend foreign audiences, so corporate types top the list of evil stereotypes By EDWARD JAY EPSTEIN It is not surprising that pop-culture protesters are now intent on occupying Wall [...]

Herman Cain tells Wall St marchers where to march

The Arkansas Times Blog reported today: Around 100 were on hand for tonight’s Occupy Little Rock planning meeting, the second since the group formed in Little Rock earlier this month. Organizers and attendees struggled with a somewhat complicated voting-by-hand-signals process, but the assembly did get some key points ironed out, including the start time and [...]

Jim Lendall of “Let them Pay” Guillotine fame shows up at “Occupy Arkansas” group meeting

Left leaning blogs like Blue Arkansas have praised the “Occupy Arkansas” but I wonder if they know about some of the crazy things the leaders of this movement have said. Jason Tolbert noted on October 7, 2011: Max Brantley with the Arkansas Times reports on the efforts currently under way to organize an “Occupy Arkansas” [...]

Lt Gov. Mark Darr endorses Romney

I think that many evangelical Christians may have a problem with supporting Mitt Romney who is a Mormon. I think that Romney is a very good speaker and will beat President Obama easily. He is not my favorite candidate though. John Brummett rightly noted that this endorsement by Lt. Governor was sought after by Romney and it was a big deal. 

 

Jason Tolbert noted:

There is still a lot of campaigning to go. This time in 2007, Rudy Giuliani was the front-runner with Fred Thompson close behind. The eventual nominee, John McCain, was a distant third

Here is a story and video by Jason Tolbert:

Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr announced today his endorsement of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for President.  Darr made the announcement at the Little Rock Political Animal’s Club luncheon, which was held at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion. The endorsement is the first high-profile endorsement for Romney in the Natural State, although more will likely follow.  (Update – Congressman Tim Griffin announced his endorsement about the same time as Darr.)

“I think Arkansas is looking for its leaders to be bold and want to know where they stand on the issues and who they do or do not support,” said Darr when asked why he is endorsing this early in the primary. “Because the field of candidates needs to begin to narrow, I have decided who I am going to support and felt now was the time to make that public.”

Darr stated that he believes that Romney “gives us our best chance of defeating President Obama.”

“I like that he has real-world business knowledge. He’s not just a politician, he’s owned businesses. I think he has stood out during the debates as someone who is well-versed on the issues. He has shown that he can go toe-to-toe with the President. I believe he will be able to appeal to and pull support from other parts of the country that other candidates might not. He also has shown that he can put together the necessary resources to mount a successful campaign,” said Darr.

In June, 20 Arkansas legislators formed “Arkansans for Rick Perry” encouraging the Texas Governor to get in the race.  Darr was part of a group from Arkansas that traveled to Austin to meet with Perry in late July. In August, Perry took the Arkansas legislators’ advice as well as others from around the country unhappy with the current field of Presidential contenders and jumped in the race. He immediately shot up to the top of the polls and became the frontrunner; however, after a lackluster performance at a debate last month in Florida and a distant second place showing in the Florida straw poll a few days later, his bubble seemed to burst and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain’s stock started to rise.

“I think Governor Perry is a great man and a great governor for Texas, but from what I’ve seen in the campaign so far, I think Governor Romney is better prepared to take on the President and win,” said Darr when asked why he went with Romney over Perry.

Rep. David Sanders with Arkansas for Rick Perry said he is sticking with Perry in spite of his recent stumbles pointing out that he is “a proven job creator” in Texas and just announced today that he has raised $17 million.

“Campaigns are long enterprises. There are going to be starts and stops and bumps in the road,” said Sanders. “To not acknowledge that there have been some bumps along the way would be to ignore reality. But I feel confident in his ability to get things going, and again, I think the message and record is so compelling. Some of the items have been substantive while some have been nitpicky but I think the record and the message overshadow that.”

Politicians at Hog game

Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times caught up with Congressman Tim Griffin at the Razorback game. I got a picture of my son Wilson with the Congressman and enjoyed the Chickfila served at the Congressman’s tailgate. I was told that Senator Boozman had a tailgate but I did not run across it.

Below is a picture from Arkansas Times Blog:

WOO CONGRESSMAN: Tailgating Tim.

Since Max showed up briefly to get this picture, I wish I would have a chance to visit with me. Although we are from the opposite sides of the fence politically, it would my pleasure to tell him that he runs the most informative blog in Arkansas. I have talked to many conservatives who have admitted that very thing to me on many occasions.

Buffett wants the rich soaked but that will not solve our problem in the budget

Max Brantley on the Arkansas Times Blog, August 15, 2011, asserted:

Billionaire Warren Buffett laments, again, in a New York Times op-ed how the rich don’t share the sacrifices made by others in the U.S.. He notes his effectiie tax rate of 17 percent is lower than that of many of the working people in his office on account of preferences for investment income. Candidates such as U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin believe — with election results to support them — that Americans support such a tax system.

In the article below, Jeffrey Miron gives figures that show that Buffett is wrong about soaking the rich to solve our budget problem. However, he also shows how the federal government has acted in such a way

Why Warren Buffett Is Wrong

by Jeffrey A. Miron

This article appeared on CNN.com on August 16, 2011.

In a recent New York Times op-ed article, Warren Buffett asserts that the super-rich do not pay enough taxes. He suggests that any new budget deal should raise rates on the super-rich, especially on their “unearned” income from interest, dividends and capital gains.

Buffett is wrong. Bad government policies play a major role in generating inappropriately high incomes, but singling out the super-rich is misguided. And the policy Buffett criticizes most — low tax rates on capital income — should be expanded, not eliminated.

The first problem with Buffett’s view is that the number of super-rich is too small for higher rates to make much difference to our budget problems.

In 2009, the income earned by the 236,833 taxpayers with more than $1 million in adjusted gross income was about $727 billion. Imposing a 10% surcharge on this income would generate at most $73 billion in new revenue — only about 2% of federal spending. And $73 billion is optimistic; the super-rich will avoid or evade much of the surcharge, significantly lowering its yield.

Bad government policies play a major role in generating inappropriately high incomes, but singling out the super-rich is misguided.

Focusing on the super-rich also fosters a counterproductive attitude toward material success. The way to promote a hard-working, entrepreneurial and innovative society is to celebrate great wealth so long as it has been earned by legitimate means. When this is not the case, policy should target the wrongdoing directly, not demonize everyone who hits it big.

Most importantly, singling out the super-rich distracts from the real problem: the myriad policies that make no sense in the first place because they inhibit economic growth and that simultaneously redistribute from low-income households to the middle and upper classes.

The deductibility of home mortgage interest encourages excess investment in housing. High-income taxpayers get the benefits, since low-income taxpayers own little or no housing and do not itemize deductions in any case.

The favorable tax treatment of employer-paid health insurance generates overconsumption of health care and contributes to rising health care costs. The benefits go mainly to middle- and upper-income households, since those without jobs get no employer-provided benefits.

Numerous loopholes for favored industries in the corporate tax code distort the market’s investment decisions and reward the well-funded and politically connected.

And it is not just the tax code that harms the economy while favoring the better off.

Excessive licensing requirements, permitting fees, restrictive examinations and other barriers to entry into medicine, law, plumbing, hair styling and many other professions are bad for economic productivity because they artificially restrict the supply of these services. And these barriers redistribute income perversely by raising incomes for those protected and raising prices for everyone.

Crony capitalism — the special treatment of favored industries like autos — runs counter to economic efficiency because it protects businesses that would otherwise fail, and it maintains high incomes for executives and shareholders.

The too-big-to-fail doctrine, exhibited most recently in the TARP bailout of Wall Street banks, distorts efficiency by encouraging excess risk-taking. Meanwhile, bailouts generate huge incomes for the lucky few who keep gains in good times and pass losses to taxpayers in bad times.

In contrast to these and other policies, the one Buffett criticizes — low tax rates on capital income — is beneficial for the economy, including lower-income households.

Jeffrey Miron is senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies at Harvard University and Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. He is the author ofLibertarianism, from A to Z.

More by Jeffrey A. Miron

Economists agree broadly that an efficient tax system should avoid taxing income, dividends and capital gains to promote savings, investment and growth. Tax rates on capital income should therefore be low or even zero. The U.S. is far from this ideal, especially given the high tax rate on corporate income and the additional taxation at the personal level.

Buffet asserts that taxing capital income has never deterred anyone from investing. Well, then he has never discussed the issue with me or many of my friends.

More importantly, taxing investment returns plays a huge role in what kinds of investments occur, and where, even if it has minor effects on the amounts. These tax-induced distortions in investment choices then reduce economic growth. High U.S. taxation on capital income drives investment overseas.

So raising capital tax rates will not make the super-rich pay their “fair” share; it will encourage capital flight, driving factories and innovation abroad. The rich will still get their high returns, but U.S. workers will have fewer jobs and lower wages.

Buffett errs, most fundamentally, by focusing on outcomes rather than policies. The right question is which policies promote differences in incomes that reflect hard work, energy, innovation and creativity, rather than reward the unethical, the politically connected and the tax-savvy.

In economics, as in sports, we should adopt good rules and insist that everyone play by them. Then we should stand back and applaud the winners.

Five Key Reasons to Reject Class-Warfare Tax Policy

Brummett touts Buffett’s math, but it is wrong

Five Key Reasons to Reject Class-Warfare Tax Policy

Max Brantley on the Arkansas Times Blog, August 15, 2011, asserted:  

Billionaire Warren Buffett laments, again, in a New York Times op-ed how the rich don’t share the sacrifices made by others in the U.S.. He notes his effectiie tax rate of 17 percent is lower than that of many of the working people in his office on account of preferences for investment income. Candidates such as U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin believe — with election results to support them — that Americans support such a tax system.

There is one huge problem with this math. Taxes on dividends and corporate taxes and the death tax are all DOUBLE TAXATION.

Warren Buffett’s Fiscal Innumeracy

Posted by Daniel J. Mitchell

Warren Buffett’s at it again. He has a column in the New York Times complaining that he has been coddled by the tax code and that “rich” people should pay higher taxes.

My first instinct is to send Buffett the website where people can voluntarily pay extra money to the federal government. I’ve made this suggestion to guilt-ridden rich people in the past.

But I no longer give that advice. I’m worried he might actually do it. And even though Buffett is wildly misguided about fiscal policy, I know he will invest his money much more wisely than Barack Obama will spend it.

But Buffett goes beyond guilt-ridden rants in favor of higher taxes. He makes specific assertions that are inaccurate.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

His numbers are flawed in two important ways.

  1. When Buffett receives dividends and capital gains, it is true that he pays “only” 15 percent of that money on his tax return. But dividends and capital gains are both forms of double taxation. So if he wants honest effective tax rate numbers, he needs to show the 35 percent corporate tax rate.Moreover, as I noted in a previous post, Buffett completely ignores the impact of the death tax, which will result in the federal government seizing 45 percent of his assets. To be sure, Buffett may be engaging in clever tax planning, so it is hard to know the impact on his effective tax rate, but it will be significant.
  2. Buffett also mischaracterizes the impact of the Social Security payroll tax, which is dedicated for a specific purpose. The law only imposes that tax on income up to about $107,000 per year because the tax is designed so that people “earn” a corresponding  retirement benefit (which actually is tilted in favor of low-income workers).Imposing the tax on multi-millionaire income, however, would mean sending rich people giant checks from Social Security when they retire. But nobody thinks that’s a good idea. Or you could apply the payroll tax to all income and not pay any additional benefits. But this would turn Social Security from an “earned benefit” to a redistribution program, which also is widely rejected (though the left has been warming to the idea in recent years because their hunger for more tax revenue is greater than their support for Social Security).

If we consider these two factors, Buffett’s effective tax rate almost surely is much higher than the burden on any of the people who work for him.

But this entire discussion is a good example of why we should junk the corrupt, punitive, and unfair tax code and replace it with a simple flat tax. With no double taxation and a single, low tax rate, we would know that rich people were paying the right amount, neither too much based on class-warfare tax rates nor too little based on loopholes, deduction, preferences, exemptions, shelters, and credits.

So why doesn’t Buffett endorse this approach? Tim Carney offers a very plausible answer.

The Top 10 Percent of Earners Paid 70 Percent of Federal Income Taxes

Dan Mitchell on Taxing the Rich

Max Brantley this morning on the Arkansas Times Blog, August 15, 2011, asserted:  

Billionaire Warren Buffett laments, again, in a New York Times op-ed how the rich don’t share the sacrifices made by others in the U.S.. He notes his effectiie tax rate of 17 percent is lower than that of many of the working people in his office on account of preferences for investment income. Candidates such as U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin believe — with election results to support them — that Americans support such a tax system.

 It appears according the chart below that the rich do sacrifice more than others which contradicts Max Brantley’s statment above. Welcome back Max. We missed you!!!

The Top 10 Percent of Earners Paid 70 Percent of Federal Income Taxes

Top earners are the target for new tax increases, but the U.S. tax system is already highly progressive. The top 1 percent of income earners paid 38 percent of all federal income taxes in 2008, while the bottom 50 percent paid only 3 percent. Forty-nine percent of U.S. households paid no federal income tax at all.

PERCENTAGE OF FEDERAL INCOME TAXES (2008)

 
Source: Tax Foundation and Internal Revenue Service.

Chart 13 of 42

In Depth

  • Policy Papers for Researchers

  • Technical Notes

    The charts in this book are based primarily on data available as of March 2011 from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The charts using OMB data display the historical growth of the federal government to 2010 while the charts using CBO data display both historical and projected growth from as early as 1940 to 2084. Projections based on OMB data are taken from the White House Fiscal Year 2012 budget. The charts provide data on an annual basis except… Read More

  • Authors

    Emily GoffResearch Assistant
    Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy StudiesKathryn NixPolicy Analyst
    Center for Health Policy StudiesJohn FlemingSenior Data Graphics Editor

Can Bill Halter beat Representative Tim Griffin?

With President Obama on the top of the ticket in 2012, I just don’t think that Bill Halter can beat Representative Tim Griffin. Red Arkansas seems to agree with me:

Today we consider Bill Halter, the former Lt. Governor of Arkansas who has a slightly creepy relationship with an old guy wearing polyester Bike coaching shorts and has instilled much love from such Arkansas Democratic luminaries as Marion Berry, Dustin McDaniel, Mike Beebe, Mike Ross and Keith Ingram.

You see, Mr. Halter has caused two looney leftie bloggers to get all ver clempt over the mishegoss that he might unseat Rep. Tim Griffin in 2012.

To wit, we offer the pie in the sky ramblings of the Blue Arkansas Blog:

I don’t see why a strong Democrat couldn’t run a competitive race outside of Pulaski and into Perry, Van Buren, Conway, and even Faulkner.  Halter would be that sort of Democrat for sure, and with the kind of fundraising he could manage and grassroots excitement he could generate he would definitely be a major threat to Tim Griffin.

We’d like to offer a slight edit to BAB’s post by changing the phrase “grassroots excitement” to “union-financed smurfturfing.” Furthermore, we’d also like to point out the following 2010 AR-02 election results from “Perry, Van Buren, Conway, and even Faulkner” counties:

We guess Joyce Elliott would not be considered a “strong Democrat” by the BABlers. That’s got to sting a little bit.

Now we move on to the left-headed stepchild at non-content partner Talk Business, former Halter staffer Michael Cook. Mr. Cook writes that “Bill Halter can beat Tim Griffin,” adding:

I’m told by multiple sources, outside of the Halter camp, that recent polling shows Griffin is beatable and weaker than many realize.

Of course, the new go-to liberal blogger for DPA (read: consultant) oppo-dumps and talking points offers no proof to back his claim. (Hey, didn’t he moan about a similar lack of proof recently?)

Mr. Cook also spins a creative story as to how “ticket-splitting is ingrained in our political culture.” He cites the following examples as proof:

In 2004, John Kerry lost the 2nd Congressional District, but Vic Snyder cruised to victory over a well-funded opponent.  In 2002, Arkansans voted out Republican U.S. Senator Tim Hutchinson, but re-elected Republican Governor Mike Huckabee. In 2000, Al Gore lost Arkansas, but Mike Ross defeated Republican Congressman Jay Dickey for Congress.

Funny how that, according to Mr. Cook’s view, the only ticket-splitting occurs when Republicans are on the top of the ticket. We’ll put the fact that Mr. Beebe won the Second District 66%-32% while Mr. Griffin won 58%-38% out of our minds then. (BTW, it sure looks to us that there were a few Democrats who dared to stray from Da Guv–no telling what they’d do when Da O is atop the ballot.)

Shall we deconstruct in chronological order?

  • 2000: While Al Gore lost Arkansas, he won AR-04.
  • 2002: Do we really need to get into Tim Hutchinson’s marital issues and that Mark Pryor traded on his daddy’s name?
  • 2004: Vic Snyder raised $891,220. Marvin Parks raised $576,854. (By comparison, Mr. Griffin raised $1,855,578 in 2010.)

That was fun.

Since Mr. Cook likes to toss out info with nothing sourced, we’d like to follow suit by adding that–according something we heard from some guy–Mr. Halter’s “big donors” indicate that he may take a pass.

We’re not real sure if that is in reference to local donors or if it means Richard Trumka and the AFL-CIO will not be spending another $4.5 million in independent expenditures on behalf of Mr. Halter like they did in 2010.

Beebe does not get it, Lowering federal spending is the real issue, not debt ceiling

Max Brantley wrote on the Arkansas Times Blog this morning:

Is there a better voice for moderation, compromise and legislative solutions than Gov. Mike Beebe? His legislative career contains few policy monuments, but a warehouse full of settlements of pitched legislative battles.

So he’s a good spokesman against the current impasse created in Congress by Republicans like 2nd District U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin intent on holding the U.S. hostage to debilitating budget cuts and absolute protection of the wealthy from even a small increase in the lowest tax burden in half a century. Good for Beebe.

“They are apparently so entrenched that they’re ready to allow this country to default, with all of the economic consequences that that brings with it,” Beebe told reporters. “They’re up to the licklog, and they’d better sit down and figure out how they solve this problem.” 

Beebe said both sides in the debate deserve criticism, but “it sounds to me like it’s the Republican majority in the House that has just drawn a line in the sand.”

Beebe claims it the Republicans who want to default, but is the Democrats who are refusing to cut the budget in a way we can lower this 1.7 trillion deficit for this year!!!!

The huge deficits are the problem. People want the debt ceiling raised, but if the huge deficits  continue then what is the use? The article below shows how our government will have their credit rating devalued UNLESS WE STOP RUNNING UP BIG DEFICTIS EVERY YEAR!!

Dueling Debt Ceiling Proposals vs. the Rating Agencies,” by Alison Acosta Fraser, July 25, 2011 at 10:16 pm:

As the day debt ceiling of reckoning fast approaches, dueling proposals are flurrying around Washington fast and furious.  The latest two are from House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Americans, and global financial markets, are watching Washington nervously for a real plan—one that will put the nation squarely on a path to solving our twin crises of spending and debt.  Without strong structural changes in spending, our debt will balloon out of control.

At stake are two issues.  The short-term is obvious – will there be an increase in the debt limit before August 3?  Despite the President and his team practically begging Wall Street to collapse, the markets and the rating agencies believe that there will be an increase and the federal government can safely avoid the chaos of prioritizing its bills in order to service the debt.  Though they warn of the consequences if this doesn’t happen, Standard & Poor’s, has stated that

…the risk of a payment default is small, though increasing…Standard and Poor’s still anticipates that lawmakers will raise the debt ceiling by the end of July to avoid those outcomes.”

The second and even more crucial issue is whether Congress will take necessary action beyond the next year to bring our debt under control over the medium and long-term.  This is where the rating agencies really voice their strong concern.    Again, Standard & Poor’s:

Congress and the Administration might also settle for a smaller increase in the debt ceiling, or they might agree to a plan that, while avoiding a near-term default, might not, in our view, materially improve our base case expectation for the future path of the net general government debt-to-GDP ratio.”

Moody’s response is similar:

The outlook assigned at that time to the government bond rating would very likely be changed to negative at the conclusion of the review unless substantial and credible agreement is achieved on a budget that includes long-term deficit reduction. To retain a stable outlook, such an agreement should include a deficit trajectory that leads to stabilization and then decline in the ratios of federal government debt to GDP and debt to revenue beginning within the next few years.

What the rating agencies are saying is that Congress and the President must pass legislation that immediately begins to rein in deficits and bring our debt down to more acceptable levels, and either keeps it there or continues to drive it down further.

The Boehner proposal would cut $1.2 trillion in discretionary spending.  There is no assurance that these cuts will occur, but let’s assume they do.  Let’s even be generous and assume that they are – in the words of S&P– “enacted and maintained throughout the decade.”  This would cut debt held by the public from its projected $24.9 trillion in 2021 to $23.7 trillion, and when measured against the economy from 104% to 99.4%.  Certainly, this is an improvement, but it is hardly declining from today’s levels, nor would these cuts fundamentally restructure entitlements – the real driver of our deficits in the future.

Step two in the Boehner proposal would reduce deficits by an additional $1.8 trillion over ten years.  Even assuming these cuts all happen, and even assuming they were all spending cuts – a broad assumption given the President’s rhetoric surrounding tax hikes on the wealthy – this would bring publicly held debt down to 92% of GDP. Better, but not that much.  Even throwing in interest savings from deficit reduction would bring this down to 88%.  Again, not much improvement and far worse than today’s debt ratio.

The Reid proposal doesn’t move the ball forward enough either.  At best it falls somewhat short of Boehner’s $3 trillion by $800 billion ($1.2 trillion in discretionary and some confusing savings to be had from winding down operations in Iraq and Afghanistan of $1.0 trillion.)

Neither of this week’s dueling debt ceiling proposals would pass the test from Moody’s or Standard and Poor’s for a credible, firm and actionable plan that would turn the tide of our deficits to put our debt on a manageable track. And if that holds true, then a downgrade by the rating agencies could occur smack in the very election year the President is trying to scoot through.

Because spending is set to grow so significantly over the decade, the kind of onesie-twosie approach to cutting spending and increasing the debt limit is simply not adequate.  Net interest payments are projected to more than triple over the next decade. The longer Congress waits to seriously control spending, the more it will have to cut just to offset bourgeoning interest costs.  And if interest rates suddenly rise? Well, we have an even bigger problem on our hands.

And, as babyboomers flood into Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid swell in tandem, the kinds of changes necessary to rein in spending on these programs will be much more difficult.  Here again, the longer they duck the problem, the more likely a meltdown ahead.

The fact is, the only plan that could likely pass muster with Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s is House passed, Cut, Cap and Balance.  Why?  They tackle spending with firm caps that are enforceable, and before the end of the decade bring spending down to 19.9% of GDP and keep it there.  With the right spending changes it could fall, along with debt levels, from there.  Congress must act now to rein in spending and get our debt under control. It’s time for the dueling to end.

Brantley: Republicans will pay for opposing tax increases

Today on the Arkansas Times Blog Max Brantley asserted:

 A growing number of polls show Republican voters think their representatives in Congress are too extreme — opposing any tax increases — and have not done enough to work out the debt ceiling problem.

Tim Griffin, Rick Crawford and Steve Womack don’t need no stinkin’ polls.

I do not think that the American people want their taxes raised right now. That may be contrary to what President Obama thinks though. In the article, “Myths of Tax Cuts for Rich, Spending Cuts for Poor,” published on May 3, 2011 by Brian Riedl, the case is made that the rich pay a higher percentage of the total taxes than they have in a long time. He notes, “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that the richest 20 percent of taxpayers now shoulder a record 86 percent of the federal income tax burden. By comparison in 1981 it was 64 percent and in 2001 it was 81 percent.

Below is the complete article:

Conventional wisdom becomes dangerous when it contradicts analysis and evidence. On the federal budget, for example, we’re told that the rich are evading their fair share of the tax burden while the poor are seeing their spending slashed.

These assumptions have consequences. The president’s deficit commission — which maintains that everything is on the table — left the $638 billion federal anti-poverty budget virtually untouched. Others assert that finally soaking the rich will close the budget deficit.

Basic government data reveal this conventional wisdom to be flat wrong: Anti-poverty spending is at record levels. The rich are shouldering more of the tax burden than ever. The federal budget is more redistributive than ever.

First, let’s examine taxes. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that the richest 20 percent of taxpayers now shoulder a record 86 percent of the federal income tax burden. This is substantially higher than when Ronald Reagan took office (64 percent) and even higher than when George W. Bush took office (81 percent).

How could the tax code become even more progressive after President Bush’s tax cuts? Imagine an income tax cut that reduces Montgomery Burns’ tax from $95,000 to $85,000 and Homer Simpson’s tax from $5,000 to $0. Mr. Burns saves more dollars, but the Simpsons see a larger percentage reduction in their taxes. As a result, Mr. Burns goes from paying 95 percent of the combined tax burden up to 100 percent.

This happened with the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Although Mr. Bush reduced taxes for wealthy individuals, he also cut the lowest income tax bracket by one-third and doubled the refundable child tax credit — taking 10 million low-income families off the income tax rolls. In fact, the poorest 40 percent of households now pay zero income taxes, and many actually receive checks from Washington on April 15.

Examining all federal taxes — including corporate, payroll and excise taxes — doesn’t significantly change the story. In 1980, the richest 20 percent financed 55 percent of all federal revenue. Today, they finance a record 69 percent. In that time, the portion of all taxes paid by the top 1 percent has doubled. The portion paid by the bottom 40 percent has dropped nearly in half.

The data are clear. Nearly every year, the federal tax burden tilts even further toward upper-income taxpayers. Seekers of a more progressive tax policy should answer two questions: If 86 percent of the income tax burden is not enough, how much should the top 20 percent of taxpayers pay? And if the bottom 40 percent paying no income taxes is not sufficient, what is?

The flip side of the “tax cuts for the rich” mantra has been “spending cuts for the poor.” Again, the official government data flatly contradict the conventional wisdom.

According to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, federal anti-poverty spending has soared from $190 billion in 1990 to $348 billion in 2000, and to a staggering $638 billion this year (all adjusted for inflation). The growth since 2000 has been particularly remarkable in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (470 percent), food stamps (229 percent), energy assistance (163 percent), child care assistance (89 percent) and Medicaid (80 percent).

These expansions have been bipartisan: Mr. Bush — unfairly derided as bad for poor people — became the first president to spend more than 3 percent of the nation’s income on anti-poverty programs. President Obama then pushed it above 4 percent. In fact, since 1990, anti-poverty spending as a share of national income has expanded as fast as Social Security, Medicare, defense and education — combined.

So why the perceived “spending cuts for the poor”? Because anti-poverty spending increases (as large as $60 billion annually) occur automatically, and therefore go largely unnoticed. Yet any lawmaker proposing to shave even $1 billion off that growth is loudly attacked for “declaring war” on the safety net.

Missing is any broader context. Also missing is serious engagement with Robert Rector’s research displaying the ineffectiveness of much of this spending.

Washington faces enormous budgetary problems, including trillion-dollar deficits and the exploding costs of Social Security and Medicare. A lack of redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor is not one of those problems.

Brian Riedl is the Grover M. Hermann fellow in federal budgetary affairs at the Heritage Foundation

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