Shades of William Jennings Byran's 'Cross of Gold'! The Globe didn't go totally Mel Gibson's 'Passion' on us this morning. But Dan Wasserman's cartoon does show workers being hung by the hands on rising corporate profits. This was the Globe's subtle way of commenting on news it reported yesterday that wages aren't rising as fast as profits. The Globe predictably overlooks the fact pointed out in this Investor's Business Daily article that:
Has Tucker Carlson ever heard of the Marshall Plan? Seriously. The question arises in light of Carlson's show-closing diatribe this afternoon. Tucker was irate that, "now that Israel is done pummeling Lebanon, Uncle Sam wants to help clean up the mess. Your hard-earned tax dollars will include $42 million to help Lebanon's military prepare for deployment in the southern part of the country, rebuild schools and help mop up an oil spill off the Lebanese coast."
He continued: "Here's the question - if the United States was so opposed to the physical destruction of Lebanon, so opposed that we would pay for the reconstruction of Lebanon, why did we allow Israel - and we did allow Israel - to use American arms to pummel Lebanon. Maybe it was a good idea, maybe it wasn't. But the fact that we are paying for the clean-up suggests we were against it in the first place. And if we were against it in the first place, why didn't we do something about it? Good question!" [If Carlson did say so himself].
Did the MSM get together and decide this would be Bad Economics Saturday? As I noted here, the New York Times emitted an editorial this morning grimly imagining a downturn despite the good economic news.
Over at the Boston Globe, Robert Kuttner has chipped in with More than Wal-Mart. While applauding the efforts of Dem politicians to go after the country's biggest retailer, Kuttner claims that isn't nearly enough. He wants much more government regulation of the economy, and higher taxes for the 'rich'.
"[Wal-Mart's] wages and health benefits are dismal. Wal-Mart batters down wages."
'Wishin' and hopin' and 'Thinkin' and prayin', 'Plannin' and dreamin' 'Each night of his charms, 'That won't get you into his arms.' - Dusty Springfield, 'Wishing & Hoping'
If E.J. Dionne's wishes were horses, Democrats would ride them to the White House. In his WaPo column of today, The End Of the Right?, the liberal pundit foresees the fall of conservatism. The immediate springboard for his prediction was yesterday's failed vote for an increase in the minimum wage. According to Dionne:
"The most obvious, outrageous and unprincipled [conservative] spasm occurred last night when the Senate voted on a bill that would have simultaneously raised the minimum wage and slashed taxes on inherited wealth.
An ABC Good Morning America story by Claire Shipman reports on the $150 billion in tax revenue that the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations says is lost because of the wealthy who figure out ways to avoid paying taxes.
That's enough money to cover the budgets for the Department of Education, the State Department, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security.
Or to purchase 60 Virginia-class nuclear subs. Or enough to give $500 to every American.
As required, Republicans have to be trashed in this story and not Democrats. First she quoted a Democratic Senator who moralized about the situation, not any Republicans, which fit in nicely with the next principle, which is to only cite Republicans who are doing the immoral thing in question.
"Something smells here. … Something is rotten here," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who sits on the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.
"The abuse of offshore tax havens by U.S. individuals are shifting the tax burden to all of us," Levin said. "The report blows the lid off tax haven abuses."
A sample of my latest article available at MRC's BusinessandMedia.org. For the full article, click here.:
It’s not every
day a politician calls for a 100-percent tax rate on national TV. Even the most
liberal-friendly of journalists would be inclined to question such a punitive
idea. But when former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich called for such a
tax on the “windfall profits” of oil on the July 28 “Early Show,” CBS’s Hannah
Storm didn’t even bat an eyelash.
interview segment with the liberal Rep. Kucinich (D-Ohio) and the libertarian
Cato Institute’s Jerry Taylor on the so-called windfall profits tax, Storm
asked Kucinich how such a tax would “translate to consumers and help the people
who are paying at the pump.”
In January, in response to the Sago Mine tragedy, editorials at The New York Times charged that the Bush Administration had let mine safety deterioriate and had let up on its mine inspection efforts. A few minutes of looking at the government's own statistics by yours truly (here and here) and others showed that deaths and injuries had both decreased substantially during the Bush administration, even after considering workforce reductions, and that on a per-mine and per-miner basis, there had been no slacking off on inspections.
Now The Times, that former national media powerhouse that seems intent on becoming Manhattan's quaint little alternative newspaper, has done it again. In an article about IRS reductions in estate tax auditing, it shows that it doesn't understand something you and I instinctively know -- when there's less work to do, you need fewer people to do it. It also didn't do the basic research that would have shown that the reductions are not only justified, but that they should have begun several years ago.
And this will sound familiar to Times watchers: They think they have this incredible scoop because some of the people being let go leaked internal documents:
“Senator Byron Dorgan is no protectionist. In point of fact,
he is calling for expanded markets for U.S. exports,” Dobbs insisted, praising
Dorgan for his “critical examination of what this country is doing to itself,”
with tax and trade policy.
But Dobbs is confusing his viewers, if not outright
insulting their intelligence by insisting Dorgan isn’t for protectionist
policies. Dorgan supports various tariffs, including one on foreign sources of
ethanol, a fuel additive mandated for gasoline by the EPA.
The Washington Post's Jeff Birnbaum devoted his K Street Confidential column today to liberal Senator Ron Wyden's (D-Ore.) call for a "FairFlat" tax. Birnbaum failed to tell his readers that Wyden's soak-the-rich plan for "reform" co-opts language from two conservative schools of thought on tax reform: the flat tax championed by Steve Forbes and the national sales "Fair Tax" advocated by Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.).
But as the MRC's Business & Media Institute director Dan Gainor also noticed, the Fox News contributor missed Wyden's unfortunate allusion to an infamous Marxist class warrior.
Nothing can put a bigger smile on an old cynic’s face than the normally predictable throwing a twelve to six curveball. Such is what occurred this morning when I opened up a Newsweek article by Robert Samuelson entitled: “Utterly Shameless; How could President Bush publicly brag about a federal budget with a $296 billion deficit?”
After seeing that head and sub-line, I prepared to do battle with what I expected to be the usual liberal mantra concerning budget deficits. Unfortunately, Samuelson didn’t cooperate, for scattered throughout his text was more sense coming from a Newsweek columnist not named George Will than I had seen in decades.
Now, I must caution the reader ahead of time to be prepared for some almost unprecedented sanity from this unlikely source (emphasis mine):
Somebody's got it wrong. In explaining the lower-than-projected deficit, President Bush today gave credit to his tax cuts. As reported in this AP article, in a speech Tuesday announcing the good news, "Bush said the improvement is due to tax cuts he pushed in 2001 and 2003" and keeping the lid on domestic spending.
But when the AP weighed in with its own analysis, it was 180 degrees opposite from the president's. Here's what the AP reported as fact:
"Several rounds of tax cuts, including Bush's signature $1.35 trillion tax cut in 2001, also contributed to the return to deficits four years ago after four years of budget surpluses."
Anybody that has read the Declaration of Independence knows that taxes were a big issue for our Founding Fathers. Certainly, this has been lost on most media in our country as they regularly advocate a higher and higher financial burden on the citizenry to pay for government programs.
No finer example of the divide between the media and the intent of our Founding Fathers was demonstrated than in an op-ed published in today’s Washington Post entitled “Tax Inheritance, Not ‘Death.’” In it, authors Maya MacGuineas and Ian Davidoff – fittingly from the New America Foundation, as their ideas certainly go contrary to the America our colonists fought and died for – proposed that estate taxes in America should be replaced by inheritance taxes for everybody that tries to pass on more than $10,000 to their heirs.
Yes, they really said $10,000: “A far better approach would be to tax people equivalently on all the income they receive, whether it be from earned or inherited income, by replacing the estate tax with an income tax on inheritances. Under such a tax, inheritances would be treated the same as other forms of earned income and taxed in the same manner.”
Not that there's been any doubt as to the politics of NPR and PBS - home to world-class Republican haters such as Bill Moyers. Still, it's instructive to see just who has launched a massive organizing effort to ensure continued taxpayer funding of the two organizations. Turns out . . . it's none other than the far-left MoveOn.org.
Here's a mass email sent out today by Move-on:
From: Noah T. Winer, MoveOn.org Civic Action Sent: Monday, June 12, 2006 12:27 PM To: Subject: Deadline tomorrow! Re: Save NPR and PBS (again)
Maybe the ABC show should change its name to 'Demagogue Morning America'. Earlier this week, Charlie Gibson trotted out windfall-profit taxes and limits on executive compensation as 'solutions' to high gas prices.
This morning, Kate Snow took the demagoguery up-close-and-personal, flashing a $20 bill in the faces of modest-income Americans to elict predictable responses about the tax cut they would be receiving under a Republican-backed plan.
Snow set the tone by announcing that the proposed extension of the tax cuts "would cost the federal government $70 billion." Of course tax cuts don't cost the government anything . . . since it's not the government's money. But that's not the way the MSM or liberals in Congress see it. Everything really does belong to the government, so that when it extends a tax cut, it is "spending" money.
CBS and NBC on Wednesday night painted the tax cut extensions passed by the House through a liberal prism, relaying liberal spin meant to portray the cuts as unfair by citing the dollar amounts of expected cuts for the rich versus those earning lower incomes, without any regard for how an incredible 41 percent pay no income tax and so can't get a tax cut while the wealthier pay huge dollar amounts and so even a small percentage reduction represents a big dollar number. CBS's Sharyl Attkisson put on screen, without any attribution, how “for incomes of $50,000 or less, you'll average no more than $46 in savings. Up to $100,000, average is no more than 400 bucks saved. $100,000 to a million saves anywhere from about $1,300 to a little more than $5,500. Over a million, your savings will average nearly $42,000 a year.” After Attkisson, anchor Bob Schieffer set up a piece from Anthony Mason, on how the national debt will reach $10 trillion by the end of the Bush presidency and the National Debt clock in Manhattan is running out of space, by declaring that “critics...remind us that any tax cut is just going to drive the national debt higher."
On the NBC Nightly News, Chip Reid recounted how Republicans claimed tax cuts have helped the economy before he picked up the left-wing numbers without offering any context about the dollar amounts of the cuts compared to the rate paid at various income levels, but at least he identified the source as “liberal.” Reid highlighted how “Democratic critics say the overall bill is heavily tilted in favor of the very wealthy" and passed along how “according to the liberal-leaning Tax Policy Center, those earning more than $1 million a year would save an average of about $42,000 a year. But families earning between $50,000 and $75,000 would save only $110 a year. And the savings are even smaller for those making between $40,000 and $50,000." (Transcripts and tax burden facts follow)
Those who don't think cuts in the highest marginal income-tax rates and in investment-related taxes don't pay (excuse the expression) dividends in the former of higher tax collections will be impervious to this news, as they have been for some 40-plus years.
House and Senate GOP conferees finally agreed yesterday on extending the 15% tax rate on dividends and capital gains for two more years through 2010. This means you can expect lots of media and liberal rhetoric about "the deficit" and "the rich," but the real news is how well these lower rates have been soaking the rich to fill government coffers.
..... These columns have been documenting this trend for the last couple of years, as well as the revenue tide flowing into state budget coffers. Overall state revenues climbed by 8% in 2004 and nearly 9% in 2005, according to the Census Bureau, and more and more states are piling up big surpluses. We've reported this news because politicians like to disguise these tax windfalls so they can spend it all with impunity and still plead poverty. Journalists contribute to this ruse by focusing their budget coverage on deficits, rather than on the spending and revenue trends that are the actual components of any budget.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday's front page that House and Senate Republicans reached agreement on extending "President Bush's deep cuts to tax rates on dividends and capital gains," but the chart they used on the front page was a Democratic talking point. It shows that people with a 2005 income between $10,000 and $50,000 would receive nearly zero, while people making over $100,000 would have much larger returns. The source cited on the page is merely "Tax Policy Center."
But inside, readers learn that this supposedly nonpartisan center is a project of two liberal think tanks:
Middle-income households would receive an average tax cut of $20 from the agreement, according to the joint Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, while 0.02 percent of households with incomes over $1 million would receive average tax cuts of $42,000.
Miles O'Brien may be CNN's resident NASA expert. But that doesn't make him a rocket scientist, and it sure doesn't make him an economist.
Maybe that's why he thinks raising taxes will help alleviate high gas prices.
There “could be a good argument for a gas tax in all of this to help pay for these alternative fuels,” the “American Morning” co-host suggested on the April 25 program.
“We have enough gas taxes, don’t you think,” reporter Carol Costello fired back.
Every American motorist already pays 18 cents on the gallon to Uncle Sam and anywhere from 8 to 45 cents per gallon to state governments, according to figures compiled by the American Petroleum Institute. In fact, the Energy Department estimates taxes account for 19 percent of the price of a gallon of gasoline, nearly as much as the 22 percent of the price that goes to refining costs.
On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann plugged the Rolling Stone cover story by historian Sean Wilentz which argued that George W. Bush may be the worst President ever, citing the opinions of over 400 historians. As he introduced his interview with Wilentz, Olbermann sympathetically referred to the recently fired CIA employee who leaked classified information on the agency's use of secret prisons in Europe in the War on Terrorism, calling her a "whistleblower," and asked the question: "President Bush, whose administration is now firing, perhaps prosecuting whistleblowers, is he simply the worst?"
While introducing the segment, Olbermann listed several of Wilentz's attacks against Bush without challenging their validity, including accusations of "fabricated evidence" of WMD, a "retro fiscal policy" of "massive tax cuts" for the wealthy that "racked up monstrous deficits," and a criticism citing an unnamed Republican strategist who claimed that the Republican Party is "the first religious party in U.S. history." Olbermann, who perennially makes comparisons between George Orwell's novel 1984 and the Bush administration, managed to work in yet another reference to Orwell as he ended the interview mocking the administration's use of the term "pre-9/11 thinking," charging that Bush would accuse Wilentz and the other historians of being "guilty of pre-9/11 thinking, as George Orwell might have said." (Transcript follows)
Sunday's off-lead story is by Japanese-based reporter Norimitsu Onishi ("Revival in Japan Brings Widening Of Economic Gap -- Reckoning for Premier -- Egalitarianism Is at Stake as Rich-Poor Division Threatens Mobility").
Of course, Japan's striated class system and government-controlled economy was for decades the main threat to mobility. But Onishi has another culprit in mind: Reaganism.
"Japan's economy, after more than a decade of fitful starts, is once again growing smartly. Instead of rejoicing, however, Japan is engaged in a nationwide bout of hand-wringing over increasing signs that the new economy is destroying one of the nation's most cherished accomplishments: egalitarianism."
This morning's NBC "First Read," ostensibly an analysis by NBC News's Political Director Elizabeth Wilner (and others), misleads about the contents of an NBC/WSJ Poll:
The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll and other surveys continue to show that Americans have little appetite for extending the tax cuts in the face of more pressing domestic concerns -- including energy prices.
The poll contains exactly two questions about taxes. By a 49-29 margin, respondents said they were more likely to vote for a candidate favoring "making the tax cuts of the past few years permanent." And by a 56-39 margin, respondents support the tax cuts (Question 18). Gas prices do not show up on the list of questions. The only support for Wilner's comment is that by a 49-19 margin, people asked are more likely to vote for someone who "emphasizes domestic issues over military and foreign policy issues," leaving those issues completely unspecified.
In a conversation about gas mileage, Charles Gibson showed he does have some understanding of how when a pie gets bigger, predictions done with static scoring, instead of dynamic scoring, are wildly inaccurate. Unfortunately, he doesn’t apply the same common sense to the affect of tax cuts on the federal deficit.
On this morning’s "Good Morning America" Gibson quizzed GMA financial contributor Mellody Hobson about the new fuel efficiency standards, "Mellody, when you do the math, first of all, we've had increases in mileage requirements in the past and I don't know that it's done anything to break our addiction to foreign oil. And secondly, if you run the math, they're increasing the requirements by 2.4 miles per gallon for SUVs and light pickup trucks over five years. That's an 11 percent improvement over five years. That's not much, is it?"
In a little half-hour online chat Friday at Washingtonpost.com, WashPost columnist/reporter David Broder complained about the "fiscal profligacy" of the federal government, but specifically against the Bush tax cuts. He sounded the familiar refrain that Americans should be having to "sacrifice" more for the war, even as his questioners pointed out tax cuts are popular.
Ontario, Calif.: David, A recent NBC poll disclosed that nearly 60 percent of the American people "strongly" or "somewhat strongly" support "making the President's tax cuts of the past few years permanent." Do you think that in the face of this much popular support, the Democrats will be able to stand on principle and display the political will and unity necessary to defeat this questionable plan?
A day after leading with how a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll put President Bush's approval at a low 37 percent (see this NewsBusters item), Thursday's NBC Nightly News again emphasized the negative for Bush and ignored how its own survey found public support for Bush policies which the media have derided, such as majority support for the NSA wiretapping program, the Patriot Act and making Bush's tax cuts permanent. From the White House, David Gregory asserted that "they're clearly shaken, as you might understand, politically, by the President's eroding support in the country." Gregory suggested that "at his lowest level yet in the polls, the President is left to wonder: Which way is up? Iraq, says Republican pollster Bill McInturff, has enveloped the Bush presidency." Ironically, Gregory relayed how "Republican leaders have said they're worried that the President's strengths, like tax cuts or tough anti-terror measures, have been overlooked." Indeed they have been by Gregory and NBC News. While Tim Russert on Wednesday night gave a sentence to how "voters still say they prefer Republicans to manage the war in Iraq and to deal with homeland security," like with the terrorist surveillance issue, neither NBC Nightly News nor Today have yet to mention how 56 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" support "making the tax cuts of the past few years permanent." (Transcript follows.)
The D.C. Superior Court recently ruled that thousands of non-District residents had been illegally compelled to pay a business tax. But rather than portray the tens of millions lost by local businessmen to the city government, the Post portrayed the ruling as harmful to the city's bottom line.
Staff Writer Albert Crenshaw focused on the concerns of city officials
and a sympathetic liberal think tank:
Ed Lazere, executive director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute,
which analyzes D.C. tax and budget issues, said the tax generates about
$100 million a year for the city. If the ratio of suburbanites to D.C.
residents is the same among real estate investors and other owners of
unincorporated businesses as among workers generally -- roughly
two-thirds suburban to one-third District -- then the loss could round
to $70 million, "which is huge," he said.
The New Road to Riches: Public radio! ...Minnesota Public Radio is resisting a state law requiring that it disclose salaries over $100,000 if it wants to keep getting state subsidies:
(excerpt from unlinked source)
[State Rep. Marty] Seifert said MPR would rather skip the state money than list its salaries. MPR had received state money in the past, and Seifert said the $500,000 salary of MPR's chief executive officer William Kling was one of the motivations for his legislation. [Emph. added]
CNN business contributor Andy Serwer
cast aspersions on investor Boone Pickens, a contributor to the MRC's
Free Market Project, for using perfectly legal tax deductions to lower his 2005 tax liability. He reminded viewers that it wasn't illegal, but that it "raised questions." But Serwer found nothing questionable in tax sheltering last December, reports the Free Market Project's Amy Menefee:
CNN’s Serwer advised his viewers to
get “cute” with the tax code on the Dec. 26, 2005, “American
Morning.” He wasn’t talking to billionaires, of course, but
ordinary individuals who apparently, in his estimation, deserve to
save money. Serwer encouraged his viewers to “Maximize those
charitable deductions, your 529 college plans for the kiddies. And
your gift exclusion, anyone in America can give anyone else $11,000
tax free.” He gave further advice on how to “lower your 2005 tax
Conservative author? Want to be invited on MSM shows and given deferential treatment? No problema! Just be willing to take serious shots at a Republican president. Case in point: on tonight's Hardball, Chris Matthews rolled out the red-carpet for author Bruce Bartlett, who had worked in the Reagan and Bush, Sr. administrations. Title of Bartlett's book? "Impostor : How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy". Bingo!
Matthews: "If you had to narrow it down to the biggest offense, as you see it, that Bush is not conservative, what is it?"
Bartlett: "Spending. Spending is just totally out of control. Bill Clinton was actually vastly better on the budget and there is simply no comparison between the two."
Over at Townhall, columnist Larry Elder wrote about an interview on National Public Radio's "Fresh Air with Terry Gross." Most of the interviews and reviews on that show are about arts and culture, but politics are also a topic. It airs on at least 350 NPR affiliates across the country. Elder writes about her interview with former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin about the inappropriateness of the Bush tax cuts. (Audio can be found here.) He centers in on the liberal questioning:
Gross: "This is the first time, as far as I understand it, that we've cut taxes during wartime. What does the math look like, paying for Iraq while cutting taxes?"
Newsweek's Eleanor Clift leveled a parting shot at retiring Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, condemning him for putting his imprimatur on President Bush's tax cuts. On this weekend's edition of the McLaughlin Group, Clift warned: “I don't think the legacy of Alan Greenspan is finished because the bill hasn't yet come due for those tax cuts at the high end that he gave the green light to and testified on Capitol Hill that we had such a big surplus, that the surplus was worrisome. That was not based on fact. That was based on fiction." She later fretted that the “tax cuts would not have gone through if Alan Greenspan had not blessed them.” As for Greenspan's successor, Ben Bernanke, Clift damned him with feint praise: “He's not an outright ideologue, he's not a supply-sider. This appointment could have been a lot worse.”