"We know you think Democrats are gonna raise taxes, but before they do, they'll cut yours."
That's essentially what CBS's Sharyl Attkisson was selling viewers of the November 14 "Evening News" with her story on Rep. Charlie Rangel's plan to reform the alternative minimum tax (AMT).
Attkisson showed Rangel complaining that the AMT soaks the middle class, so it should be reformed and taxes on "the rich" raised. She didn't ask him if that was a bad idea seeing as the AMT began in 1969 as a, well, soak-the-rich tax scheme. Over time it's crept into soaking the middle class, a much more politically unpalatable result of the law of unintended consequences.
Nowhere in her story did Attkisson suggest that Congress needs to rein in spending, nor did she include conservative critics who would remind audiences that Rangel voted for the Clinton tax hikes of 1993, but against the Bush tax cuts of 2001.
According to CNN’s Bill Schneider, Americans, hungry for change, have no problem with tax increasing Democrats. During Tuesday’s "Situation Room," the veteran reporter described a new poll that, according to him, demonstrated the confidence Americans have for the new Democratic majority. In the segment, he dismissed one of President Bush’s warnings this way:
Bill Schneider: "Despite President Bush's dire warnings, people don't think congressional Democrats will do anything to weaken national security. President Bush also warned-"
George Bush: "The Democrats are going to raise your taxes. No, I know they don't want you to know it."
Schneider: "Guess what? People know it but they voted for the Democrats anyway. Which means they must really want change. In the ‘USA Today’/Gallup poll, the number of Americans who call themselves Republicans is sharply down. But the number of Democrats hardly changed. More people are calling themselves independents. They're waiting to see what the Democrats deliver."
Rubin Urges Democrats to Raise Taxes to Reverse Budget Deficit
Interesting, in light of this in the Washington Post (HT Surly Don Surber; as an aside, I really have to wonder how this plays with the Democratic Underground/Daily Kos base):
Alternative Minimum Tax Targeted
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Democratic leaders this week vowed to make the alternative minimum tax a centerpiece of next year's budget debate, saying the levy threatens to unfairly increase tax bills for millions of middle-class families by the end of the decade.
So this week’s Time magazine has declared an end to Ronald Reagan’s conservative revolution? It wouldn’t be the first time — the fortune tellers at Time also saw the end of the “bankrupt” Reagan era back in 1993, after novice President Bill Clinton pleased Time’s writing staff by passing a budget that raised personal income tax rates and increased the tax on gasoline. Too bad the “return to the economic orthodoxy of balanced budgets” Time promised wasn’t achieved until voters put budget-cutting Republicans in charge of the House and Senate the following year 1994.
“Overturning the Reagan Era” screamed Time’s cover, which showed an upside-down image of President Reagan. The cover story, by Nancy Gibbs, showed Time’s obvious infatuation with liberals' concept of “fiscal responsibility,” namely, punish the private sector with tax rates high enough to pay for all of the fat government programs that Democrats can dream up (although Gibbs wished for even higher taxes, saying the ones Clinton and the last Democratic Congress pushed through "weren't very brave.").
Thanks, Bob Kuttner. You might doubt my sincerity. But really, I mean it. With Nancy AWOL, and Charley Rangel coyly claiming at his age he doesn't buy green bananas let alone speculate what he would do as Way & Means Chairman, perhaps Americans have lost sight of what the Dems have up their sleeve if they get back the majority. So in all sincerity, thanks for telling it like it is.
"We are about to get something all too rare in Democratic politics lately -- some progressive leadership . . . With a little gumption on the Democratic side, the lopsided distribution of wealth, security, and opportunity in America could come roaring back."
"American Morning" reporter Ali Velshi insinuated on Tuesday’s show that corporations favor the GOP partly because "Republicans have kept hourly wages" low:
Ali Velshi: "All right, no big secret that Big Business favors Republicans, or has traditionally favored Republicans. But with polls showing that their friends in high places might be in some trouble leading into this election, Big Business has decided to cozy up with the Democrats. Corporate America likes Republicans. For the most part, Republicans have kept hourly wages and taxes low, and they keep their hands out of business as much as possible. Republicans like corporate America, and its hefty donations."
So, apparently, in addition to attempting to "criminalize science," Republicans also are the party of low wages? Perhaps that should be on a bumper sticker somewhere. Also, do Democrats not like their "hefty donations" from trial lawyers?
I looked around when I heard someone crying, and there was Pollyanna bawling her eyes out. That's how depressing was the one-two punch of pessimism in Paul Krugman's and Bob Herbert's New York Times pay-to-peruse columns of today.
Just in time for the elections, the pair paint a picture of America so dreary you half-expected the Google logarithm to place Prozac ads on the page. Krugman tries to talk down the economy, while Herbert sees a more deep-seated malaise. Annotated excerpts:
Krugman: "Bursting Bubble Blues"
"The housing boom became a bubble . . . the question now is how much pain the bursting bubble will inflict." Guessing Krugman's answer: a lot.
"Some say the worst is already over . . . So maybe this is as bad as it gets. But I think the pessimists have a stronger case." Told you so!
The New Republic’s senior editor Jonathan Chait wrote an interesting op-ed on Sunday determined to prove that President Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 haven’t resulted in increased tax revenues (hat tip to Dave Pierre), while also attempting to make the case that tax hikes are better fiscal policy. The article’s title was “Bush’s Silly Budget Logic,” which is quite apropos given the fuzzy math and distorted recollection of history employed by the author: “There's no dispute among economists. Conservative, moderate or liberal, every credentialed economist agrees that the Bush tax cuts caused revenues to drop.”
Really? Well, let’s look at some of the facts first, shall we? For instance, according to the historical tables supplied by the Office of Management and Budget, tax receipts in FY 2003 were $1.783 trillion. The most recent estimate for FY 2006 is $2.402 trillion, a 35 percent increase. Simple, right?
Unfortunately, not for Chait who chose to represent an incomplete and misleading picture to his readers:
Those of us that study the economy and how it is reported by the drive-by media are constantly amazed by how those covering financial issues continually misrepresent statistics to advance their agenda. No finer recent example has occurred than on “The Chris Matthews Show” Sunday when the host bemoaned new highs set by the Dow Jones Industrial Average last week as not accurately reflecting what is going on in the economy.
In his final segment, Matthews actually had the nerve to state, “Eighty percent of the workforce finds their paycheck barely keeping up with inflation.” In reality, nothing could be further from the truth, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics just this past Wednesday released data indicating that the average American's real wage after adjusting for inflation has risen by 2.2 percent since September 2005 as reported by NewsBusters.
Matthews also referenced a recent Wall Street Journal poll suggesting:
In his “New Rules” segment on Friday night’s “Real Time”, host Bill Maher strongly attacked some of America’s leading conservatives, as well as right-wing think tanks for having been so wrong in their predictions about the Iraq war. Yet, in his rant against such entities and their inability to accurately forecast the future, Maher didn’t mention one liberal or left-leaning group that has been just as wrong about events crucial to Americans, including those that have been disseminating consistently bearish views about the economy in the midst of 20 straight quarters of growth (video to follow).
The NY Times editorializes this morning against the proposal by California congressman Richard Pombo to lower the federal royalty on oil-bearing shale, condemning it as "an extraordinary giveaway of federal revenue . . . and a huge incentive to wreak environmental damage." The Times apparently can't stand the thought of oil companies making a profit, even if in return we can significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil. As the paper acknowledges, "the estimate of the petroleum locked up in these deposits is enormous: perhaps 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil."
I was dutifully working my way through Robert Kuttner's Boston Globe column of this morning, Cleaning Up the Mess, on the lookout for some outrageous MSM morsel with which to arouse NewsBusters readers.
But all I was getting were Kuttner's "on the one hand, but on the other hand" arguments as to whether it is in Democratic interests to retake one or both houses of Congress come November. His thesis is that America is such a mess thanks to years of Republican misrule that fixing it could be a thankless task for Dems, who might be better off waiting for the deluge of the 2008 presidential elections. For the record, Kuttner does come down on the side of taking power now.
Oops. Back in 2004, then-ABC White House correspondent Terry Moran argued President Bush’s tax cuts were building debt, not prosperity: “Most experts say that making those tax cuts permanent would cause gigantic deficits virtually as far as the eye can see.” Early last year, CBS’s Bob Schieffer suggested it would be impossible for the federal budget deficit to be cut in half before 2009 without raising taxes: “The government has just got to find some money to finance these programs.”
Well, the tax cuts haven’t been repealed, and there have been no big new tax increases. But yesterday the White House announced that final tallies for the federal government’s fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, the budget deficit had shrunk from $413 billion two years ago to $248 billion. The federal government collected $2.407 trillion in taxes in FY2006, $122 billion more than originally forecast back in February.
According to the Times, American houses of worship aren't rendering what is due Caesar.
The New York Times has put an ironic twist on the 8th Commandment: “Thou shalt not steal.” It’s accused churches nationwide of fleecing taxpayers and local governments using the First Amendment.
The Times devoted more than 17,000 words and a four-day series indicting religious groups for what it argued was essentially cheating taxpayers across the country. The pro-government, pro-regulation treatise by business reporter Diana B. Henriques was titled “In God's Name.”
A huge point has been virtually if not totally ignored since the announcement on Friday that the reported federal deficit for the fiscal year that ended a week ago was $250 billion -- The Bush Administration has done what it said it would do about the deficit three years ago, and has done it a full three years early, i.e., in half the time predicted.
This continues what has been a very difficult past few years have been for those who deride supply-side economics. If Washington, with a little help from the states, lets the supply-side engine continue to chug along for next several years, the results could be so positively stunning that it would become impossible for supply-side detractors in touch with any part of the real world to hang on to the comfort of their static-analysis fantasyland.
But first, let's recap what has happened in the past three fiscal years:
All three broadcast networks last night reported on the Dow record high, pointing to falling oil prices as a reason for the latest market rally.
But the market's been heading on an upward trend for years, throughout climbing oil prices and the media's persistent pessimism on the economy.
Of the three networks, I found CBS had the most negatively-slanted coverage, and NONE of the big three gave any thought to the Bush tax cuts being a catalyst for economic growth.
For my full story, check out the MRC's BusinessandMedia.org.
Here's an excerpt:
While CBS’s Anthony Mason offered qualified praise for the market’s recent rally, he sowed seeds of doubt about the market’s strength. Mason highlighted a retiree who “doesn’t trust this new rally” and then warned that “some Wall Street analysts see another bubble in the economy” with real estate.
The October 1 edition of ABC’s “World News Sunday” preached that the 51 houses of worship in Stafford, Texas are a holy terror to the city’s finances, citing the mayor’s complaints about lack of tax revenue. But reporter Geoff Morrell left out that the city has already enacted more regulation to discourage churches and that at that beginning of the year, the mayor gave a very positive assessment of the city’s finances.
Far from the negative tone Scarcella took in his appearance in Morrell’s story, neither the mayor’s 2006 State of the City Address nor his Fiscal Year 2005-2006 Budget Message warned of dangers to city revenue from too many houses of worship.
It's Bush's fault because he's not sending enough money to local governments.
He doesn't care about the uptick because the victims tend to be young black men.
Oh, and to heck with the Constitution.
There. That wraps it up nicely.
My favorite bit is Venocchi's approving citation of L.A. police chief William Bratton:
``The federal government has stepped back significantly from dealing with the issue of local crime. This administration in Washington clearly feels that local crime is an issue for local towns and municipalities."
If you read the lawsuit, you won't get to the gist of what the State of California really wants from the six car companies it sued over their alleged contribution to the state's alleged global-warming problem.
(Aside: part of me would LOOOOOVE for this suit to go forward, so that global warming arguments can be shredded in open court.)
Here is the "relief" the lawsuit (15-page PDF) requests:
The People request that this Court:
1. Hold each defendant jointly and severally liable for creating, contributing to, and
maintaining a public nuisance;
2. Award monetary damages according to proof;
3. Enter a declaratory judgment for such future monetary expenses and damages as may
be incurred by California in connection with the nuisance of global warming;
4. Award attorneys fees;
5. Award costs and expenses; and
6. Award such other relief as this Court deems just and proper.
That's pretty vague. But this BBC article on the suit has this interesting unattributed sentence about what the state is actually after, something I have not seen mentioned in any other article I read on the topic:
A liberal is someone who will always be able to find the dark lining, so long as it's a Republican sun that's shining. And so here's the latest dispatch from the No-Good-Deed-Goes Unpunished Directorate of the Department of Dark Linings:
Energy prices are down, maybe heading even lower . . . and that's bad.
So writes HuffPoster Raymond Learsy today. He begins by citing that irrefutable authority, Al Gore, for the proposition that "we are near the tipping point of climatic catastrophe." He next bemoans that "never or at least rarely ever, has there been a serious discussion on curtailing the availability of gasoline." By all means, I'd encourage Democrats everywhere to run on that platform!
This is shaping up as a day for lefty unilateralism. As noted here, liberal LA Times columnist Rosa Brooks saw no nuance in her Bush-hatred fueled tirade against any expansion of permitted techniques in interrogating terrorists.
Later, Good Morning America staged a global warming love-in, in which nary a dissenting voice was heard and the only question was whether it was too late to implement Al Gore's costly nostrums.
Diane Sawyer's guests were Gore and British magnate Richard Branson. The proximate cause was the announcement that over a recent breakfast, Gore managed to convince Branson to devote 100% of the profits from Virgin Airlines to the effort against global warming [someone check the OJ for Grey Goose].
In an “On the Trail” segment from Rhode Island on Sunday's This Week, ABC's George Stephanopoulos lectured Stephen Laffey, the Republican primary challenger to incumbent Senator Lincoln Chafee, about taking a pledge to not raise federal income taxes: “If the deficit continued to grow, it's not responsible to say you're never going to raise taxes." When Laffey pointed out how Ronald Reagan's tax cuts “worked very well,” Stephanopoulos retorted: “Ronald Reagan also increased taxes." After Laffey touted the benefits of the Bush tax cuts, an exasperated Stephanopoulos resignedly concluded: "So it's 'read my lips,' you're never going to vote to raise taxes?"
I kept waiting. Dutifully wading through Paul Krugman's subscription-required kvetch over the economy, The Big Disconnect, I figured I'd eventually be rewarded for my perseverence with his proposed solutions - if only to be able to critique them. But the New York Times columnist's economic nostrums never came.
Krugman's basic complaint is that workers haven't shared in the fruits of the extended economic expansion. This is Krugman being late to the MSM party noted here, here, and here. Even so, he chooses to ignore the reporting in his own paper that flatly contradicts his own allegation that "most workers have seen their wages lag behind inflation and their benefits deteriorate." As Ken Shepherd of NB and MRC noted yesterday, the New York Times itself has acknowledged that, as per recently released data, wages are actually increasing at a 7% annual rate even when adjusted for inflation!"
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."