Pop quiz: how do you cut taxes on low and middle-income wage earners and end up with a greater percentage of people paying taxes?
Such is a question the folks at the Associated Press should be asking themselves concerning a piece the wire service published Wednesday entitled "Nearly Half of US Households Escape Fed Income Tax: Recession, new tax credits have nearly half of US households paying no federal income tax."
In the same paragraph, author Stephen Ohlemacher predictably bashed former President George W. Bush's tax cuts that were "generous to wealthy taxpayers" while he applauded "tax cuts for low- and middle-income families, which were expanded when Obama signed the massive economic recovery package last year."
There's only one problem with this premise - the net result was that a higher percentage of people paid federal income taxes in Obama's first year in office than in Bush's last:
The Obama administration is trying out a second big-government remedy for people facing foreclosure, but NBC's "Today" failed to mention criticism of the initial program or provide any free-market solutions.
The White House has now tapped $14 billion in TARP funds to expand the administration's existing mortgage assistance program.
Matt Lauer introduced the "Today" show March 29 discussion of the program saying: "New help for millions of homeowners who are facing foreclosure. The Obama administration is rolling out new incentives to the federal mortgage relief program - so what's different this time?"
"If you're unemployed, this is going to give you an ability to have your monthly payments lowered for three months, maybe even six months," CNBC's Sharon Epperson told Lauer, before noting the requirements and assistance for those "underwater."
Overshadowed in the ObamaCare shenanigans the past few weeks are provisions weaved into the Democratic health bill that would require all federal student loans to originate with the government - the largest overhaul in decades.
On the morning after the House passed the legislation, CNN Newsroom's Kyra Phillips did dedicate just thirty-four seconds to the government take-over of the student loan program.
"The measure also reaches beyond health care to education. Another one of President Obama's top priorities - it will offer new help to needy college students," Phillips stated.
The segment - tagged "Help for College Students" by the CNN Newsroom - promoted all the alleged benefits to students and families.
"It will actually expand direct-lending from the federal government; students would not have to pay fees to the banks that serve as the middleman; the White House says the expanded program will save the government $61 billion over ten years; and much of that savings will be funneled back into Pell grants - the increase will be pretty modest though - from $5,500 now to $5,700 in 2017," Phillips said.
NBC's "Today" gave backhanded praise to Bank of America (BofA) on March 11 because of its decision to stop charging overdraft fees for debit-card transactions.
"This is clearly an effort by Bank of America to repair its battered image," senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers said. "But it's also a meaningful step that will save consumers money and keep families from spending more than they have."
The NBC report maintained the media theme that such fees are "abusive" by including Leslie Parrish of the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) who said, "We highly commend Bank of America for getting rid of this abusive practice." CRL is a liberal group funded by far-left wingers like George Soros and Herb and Marion Sandler, according to ActivistCash.
While Myers acknowledged that BofA was "getting ahead" of "new federal rules," she didn't warn viewers about the negative implications of that legislation.
Back on Christmas Eve of 2009, Obama's Treasury Dept. said it would lift the limits on what the federal government could provide in "emergency aid" to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - without seeking Congressional permission.
Very few reporters noticed, except for The Washington Post's Zachary Goldfarb who reported the story on Christmas Day and CNBC CME Group reporter and tea party inspiration Rick Santelli, who later pleaded for the public to take notice. With that occurrence in mind, Santelli scoffed at Sen. Chris Dodd's, D-Conn., legislative proposal of financial system reform that did not include reforms on both Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE).
"You know, I can't believe, first of all - you said, may not be included. They are not going to be included," Santelli said on "Fast Money" March 12. "And I think to put a moniker of reform on something that doesn't include Freddie and Fannie is very disingenuous. And I think that to pass something - what I heard Mr. Dodd say, Sen. Dodd, was, you know, it's the 101st senator. In other words, you know, we'll pass anything we have to show that we're doing something, no matter if it's the right thing or not, you know, I'm not buying that again."
Scher railed against the Bush tax cuts, and asserted that a 35-45 percent inheritance penalty (the estate tax or death tax) isn't punitive enough to stem the deficit crisis.
"But those massive tax breaks to the superwealthy don't quite have the same juice they used to. Especially, the estate tax - levied on the inheritances of the wealthiest heirs in America," Scher wrote. "This year, because of the Bush tax plan from his first term to gradually phase out the estate tax altogether, the estate tax is literally wiped off the books."
In a story on American charitable giving on CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Mark Strassmann cited liberal Princeton University bio-ethics professor Peter Singer on how much people should give: “[He’s] worked up a giving guide. The more you make, the more he believes you should give....He believes it’s within our power to virtually end world poverty.”
A clip was played of Singer arguing: “Well I think we should be giving something quite substantial....the right thing to do in this situation, where there are millions of children and adults, of course, dying from avoidable poverty related causes is to give something pretty significant. Something that makes a difference to how you live.”
While Strassmann simply introduced Singer as a bio-ethicist, in reality, the professor has a history of promoting radical ideas, such as justifying infanticide. In an excerpt of his 1993 book Practical Ethics, entitled “Taking Life: Humans,”Singer concluded: “Killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Very often it is not wrong at all.” CBS certainly picked an odd person to lecture Americans on caring for those less fortunate.
From the New York Times to the Colbert Report, liberal media commentators have had a field day bashing Glenn Beck for his purported conflict of interest in encouraging his viewers to invest in gold without disclosing that he has endorsed gold distributors.
Yet few of these pundits have even mentioned Al Gore's monumental conflict of interest--which could have far greater consequences for Americans than Beck's gold promotions--in touting global warming hysteria while establishing his own green technology empire.
NewsBusters has consistently argued that Gore plays up the dangers of global warming to line his own pockets. His investments in green energy firms could pay enormous dividends if the United States adopts the draconian cuts to carbon emissions he has advocated--and Congress included in the environmental tax known as cap and trade passed by the House last summer.
On yesterday's CNN Newsroom, anchor Kyra Phillips shifted to "Bad Boys" mode:
Lenders, lenders -- what you gonna do when they come for you? Call it an early Christmas present for people on the edge of losing their homes. The Obama administration cracking down on mortgage companies.
We'll tell you about it.
After the break:
PHILLIPS: Well, from your health (ph) to your home, the foreclosure crisis shows no signs of letting up, so the Obama administration is trying to fight back.
NBC's coverage of a new bill that restricts credit card companies has been riddled with contradictions - first attacking companies for taking advantage of young people, then admitting students need to build credit.
On May 14 "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams said, "graduates enter the world with awful credit card debt" and then reporter Lisa Myers demonized credit card companies for student debt and praised possible government intervention.
The House passed a bill on May 20 to restrict credit card companies which would make it very difficult for consumers under 21 to obtain a credit card unless they have a parent co-sign the card or prove they can pay.
That will make things difficult for college students who need to establish a line of credit to rent an apartment, buy an airline ticket or purchase a car. That was ignored by NBC "Nightly News" May 19 and CBS "Early Show" on May 20. "Good Morning America" didn't report the credit card story at all on May 20.
Another day with Barack Obama as President of the United States, and another media report on how he is going to save us from ourselves.
On NBC's May 14 "Nightly News," NBC identified a new problem facing society: credit card companies that use marketing gimmicks and low interest rates to lure in young borrowers. The solution, of course, is to continue the evolution toward a government that protects the individual womb-to-tomb.
"It is commencement season, which brings to mind all the joys of college graduation, and these days all the debts," "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams said. "First, the student loans. But so often now, graduates enter the world with awful credit card debt and a chum - a crummy job market. President Obama talked about the problem today, urging Congress to crack down on companies that make the credit cards so enticing to students in the first place."
On the heels of President Barack Obama's weekend radio address, where he lobbied for so-called credit card reform, "CBS Evening News" chimed in calling the legislation "help" for small business borrowers.
"Evening News" anchor Russ Mitchell referred to Obama's address about the need for new credit card regulation on May 10 and backed up Obama's claim with data from the Center for Responsible Lending, an activist organization that calls for more stringent regulation of all lenders.
"President Obama called, this weekend, for passage of his credit card consumer protection bill by the end of the month," Mitchell said. "According to a recent survey, four out of five Americans are paying lots more since December. The Center for Responsible lending found that an estimated 10 million users were hit by rate increases of at least 10 percent. And, it's not just consumers who are paying the price - nearly half of all small business owners have seen interest rates higher than 15 percent during the past four months."
For whatever reason, CNBC keeps lining up challengers to take on its Chicago Mercantile Exchange floor reporter Rick Santelli over his self-reliance, pro-taxpayer persona - whether it's Steve Liesman, Arianna Huffington or this time, Keith Boykin - editor of The Daily Voice, a CNBC contributor and a BET TV host.
ON CNBC's May 7 "The Call," Santelli took on Boykin in the program's "The Call of the Wild" segment. Boykin was armed with the usual anti-George W. Bush talking points to defend President Barack Obama and his policies.
"Look what he inherited first of all," Boykin said.
"He didn't inherit anything," Santelli said. "He ran for office, it was his choice."
Separating personal feelings from straight-up journalism is something MSNBC anchors have had trouble with in the past, and David Shuster is no exception.
During MSNBC's daytime news coverage on April 24, Shuster interviewed Bill Himpler of the American Financial Services Association. The discussion was nominally about the legislation sponsored by Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), designed to freeze credit card rates, it became more about Shuster's view that credit card companies are gouging their customers. Throughout the four-minute interview, Shuster threw out anti-business questions and occasional hyperbole.
Instead of providing any suggestion President Barack Obama's hectoring of credit card company executives, with the not-so-subtle threat of further regulation, is an improper strong-arm tactic, the network evening newscasts on Thursday night hailed Obama's efforts to “protect consumers” -- in stories each complete with a sympathetic victim of jacked-up interest rates, but barely any time, if any, for a view contrary to Obama's.
ABC's Charles Gibson teased: “Tonight, tough talk. A stern warning from the President to credit card executives. If you don't protect the consumers, the government will.” CBS's Katie Couric fretted about the impact of “the credit card fees, penalties, and rising interest rates” which led the President to tell “the credit card companies: enough.” Reporter Anthony Mason began: “Clean up your act. That was President Obama's message to credit card issuers today.” NBC anchor Brian Williams trumpeted how Obama has come to the rescue: “Today the President admonished the credit card companies and came down on the side of consumers.”
It was either an effort to avoid blaming individuals for ill-advised borrowing or an effort to vilify the banking system, but a segment on the April 20 "CBS Evening News" took a very one-sided view of credit-card lending.
On a day bank stocks struggled and dragged the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) down nearly 300 points, "Evening News" scrutinized the current state of the banking system's credit-card lending. According to anchor Katie Couric, that sell-off of bank stocks occurred as a result of the realization the institutions would be forced to cover bad loans.
"Wall Street had been on a six-week winning streak, but today it suffered its worst drop in two months as investors rushed to sell bank stocks," Couric said. "[T]he sell-off came after Bank of America reported earnings of more than $2.8 billion last quarter, but that good news was offset by the word that the bank has set aside more than $13 billion to cover its losses from bad loans made in the past."
While Fox News has celebrated the Taxpayer Tea Party rallies and MSNBC has denigrated them, the impetus of the movement - CNBC and specifically Rick Santelli, its inspiration - had been conspicuously quiet about it.
"A lot of articles about these tea parties," Kernen said. "They all have your name in them, like you caused it. Are you actually attending any or are you just sort of got the idea going initially? What do you think? I mean, you're like a cultural phenomenon at this point."
In her April 1 blog post, Bonnie Erbe, contributing editor to U.S. News and World Report and host of PBS' "To the Contrary," gave that advice to pregnant moms who are wondering how to raise a child on a strained budget.
It wasn't a tasteless April Fool's Day joke. She's serious.
Erbe keyed her argument around the situation of an unwed, pregnant mother of three who walked an hour to a medical center to abort her wanted pregnancy after her boyfriend lost his job. This mother was featured in a March 25 Associated Press article about the increased demand for contraception and abortions in these uncertain economic times. She called the mother's choice "a good decision."
In Erbe's world, it is "sad" the woman had to walk to the center because she didn't have the bus fare, "terrible that her boyfriend lost his job," and "heart-wrenching that she fell to tears in the doctor's office." As for the abortion itself, she wrote:
But in the long run, can we not agree that an unwed couple's decision not to bring a fourth child into the world when they are having trouble feeding themselves and three children is no tragedy? It's actually a fact-based, rational decision that in the end benefits the three children they already have and society as well.
Former President George W. Bush is personally responsible for the current financial crisis and should give every penny of his family fortune to the American people as a result.
So proclaimed financial advisor Suze Orman in an article published Friday at WWD.
Ironically, the piece also pointed out that Orman didn't foresee the collapse of the financial services industry, and not only continued to recommend people buy real estate as the bubble was being pumped, but also purchased an expensive apartment in New York City close to the peak.
Here we go again - another Obama administration/media personality feud in the works.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has no problem addressing media critics of President Barack Obama - even on an individual basis. Since Obama was sworn in as president, Gibbs has addressed criticism from conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, CNBC mercantile exchange floor reporter Rick Santelli and now CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer.
During the March 3 White House press briefing, Tom Costello of NBC News asked Gibbs to respond to remarks from Cramer, who was described as "not a conservative," made on NBC's March 3 "Today" show that he "thought the president's policies, his agenda had contributed to the greatest wealth destruction he's ever seen by a president."
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and CNN’s Rick Sanchez both poked fun of Fox News personality Sean Hannity for his on-air commercials for Stanford Coins and Bullion, which is part of the Stanford Financial Group led by Robert Allen Stanford, who has been in the news recently due to charges of fraud. It was the Huffington Post on Wednesday that pointed out the talk show host’s spots for Stanford. Olbermann named Hannity his “Worst Person in the World” on Thursday evening for the radio spots for Stanford.
Nineteen hours later, on Friday afternoon’s Newsroom program on CNN, Sanchez gave the misleading impression that Hannity was still doing the live spots even after the news of the investigation into Stanford came out: “Sean Hannity unabashedly endorsed Robert Allen Stanford on the air to millions of potential customers -- the same Fox News host who calls President Obama a socialist.” An on-screen graphic during Sanchez’s segment indicated that his source for the story was the Huffington Post, while another graphic asked, “Who’s Your Friend, Sean?”
Sigh. Here we go again. First it was our capitalist society deemed gone as Newsweek magazine declared, "We're socialists now." This time - it's the death of supply-side economics, according to Newsweek Senior Editor Daniel Gross.
To sum it up, Gross declared tax cuts obsolete, a theory that only works on paper, in a time when employers come and go and institutions aren't stable like they once were. For his "Money Culture" column, in an article headlined "Tax Cuts Won't Work" posted on Feb. 13, Gross made that point using a Harvard professor, thought to have a secure job, as an example.
"Back in the day, and in many of the past episodes of postwar recession, the typical American worker resembled a Harvard professor-not in brains or wit, to be sure, but in the shape of her economic life," Gross wrote. "Many-not all, but a lot-enjoyed long, relatively secure job tenures, steady incomes, and generous employer-provided health and retirement benefits. But the economy has changed significantly in recent decades. And the circumstances that might prod our professor to start spending those tax cuts immediately might not apply to everybody else. The typical worker-white-collar, blue-collar, no-collar-doesn't have anything like tenure or a guaranteed job."
Everything is wonderful and peachy-keen in Obamaland if you rely on the reporting on the front page of The New York Times. Just ask CNBC's Jim Cramer. On his Feb. 12 program the "Mad Money" host dealt with the $789 billion stimulus package.
"Now if you were to believe what's in the papers, holy cow - except for the funny papers - you would think this package was wonderful," Cramer said he said of the reported agreement congressional leaders had reached on ironing out the package's details.
Cramer was referring to a front-page article by Richard W. Stevenson in the Feb. 12 Times, which gave a glowing account of this as a victory in the early stages of the Obama administration.
"Look at the front page of The New York Times today," Cramer said. "I love this one, ‘Measuring a Victory,' by this guy, Stevenson. He's a famous guy, you know? He's not Robert Louis Stevenson, he's Richard W. Stevenson. He writes - it's like a comedy routine - ‘It is a quick sweet victory for the new president and potentially a historic one.' Who edits this B.S.?"
"This economy requires support from the government, a check from the government in some form or fashion in the trillions as opposed to the hundreds of billions," Gross said to Bloomberg TV on February 5. "And I think President Obama was right - there is a potential catastrophe if Washington continues to focus on $100 or $200 billion. We need something in the trillions."
Gross' proposed amount includes a bailout for the banks, in addition to the stimulus to jumpstart the overall economy.
Don't like the notion of Wall Street employees receiving bonuses? Shoot the messenger - as Adam Green at The Huffington Post has done.
In a Feb. 2 post on The Huffington Post, Green said it was bad form for CNBC "Street Signs" host Erin Burnett to even think about considering the other side of the anti-Wall Street bonus argument, since some Wall Street banks received TARP funds, courtesy of the taxpayer.
"There are, though - well, how should we say this - the taxpayer money is not being used to pay the bonuses," Burnett explained on NBC's Feb. 1 "Meet the Press." "I think people could understand if you work for a company - right? If the three of us worked for a company, your guests, and I lost $10 billion but Steve [Forbes] over there, he made a billion dollars. So overall the company actually loses money, but Steve went and did his very darndest for that company and he made money. So should he be paid for his work? That's essentially what we're talking about here."
With all the populist sentiment generated from the economic slowdown by politicians, CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer is seeing eerie similarities with the comments of President Barack Obama and the words of a communist revolutionary.
Cramer, appearing on MSNBC's Feb. 2 "Morning Joe," drew comparisons between remarks between the first head of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, and Obama. Obama criticized Wall Street's moneymaking on Jan. 30, when he said there would be a time "for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses. Now's not that time. And that's a message that I intend to send directly to them."
Cramer said that was similar to Lenin's writings. "Let me tell you something, we heard Lenin," Cramer said. "There was a little snippet last week that was, ‘Now is not the time for profits.' Look - in Lenin's book, ‘What Is to Be Done?' is simple text of what I always though was for the communists, it was remarkable to hear very similar language from ‘What Is to Be Done?' which is we have no place for profits."
I was going through the comments tonight at my Pajamas Media column about the Geithner nomination that went up earlier today, and came across this at Comment 39 from "Mike M":
The deduction he took for the summer camp as a day care expense is EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED IN THE IRS CODE! That’s out and out tax fraud. Even Leona Helmsly (sic) is jealous in her grave ....
It turns out that there is a lot more to the Geithner story. It has been sitting right there in details that were made public last week, but were mostly ignored by the Washington press. While the amounts involved aren't anywhere near as large as those relating to Geithner's self-employment taxes from 2001 through 2004 on his earnings at the International Monetary Fund -- taxes he didn't pay until audited by the IRS (2003 and 2004) or until just before his nomination was announced (2001 and 2002) -- they are nonetheless revealing, infuriating, and disturbing. They make the claims of "honest mistakes" that his defenders up to and including Barack Obama continue to employ look much, much weaker (paragraph image is from Pages 3 and 4 of the relevant report stored here as a PDF; a larger JPEG image is here):