As procrastinators rush to beat the April 15 tax deadline and thousands rally at Tea Parties to oppose out of control government spending, politicians and the national news media are mulling the possibility of a new European-style national sales tax.
On April 6, former Federal Reserve chairman and current White House economic adviser Paul Volcker revealed the Obama administration's possible strategy to tame massive deficits with a value-added tax (VAT).
"Volcker, answering a question from the audience at a New York Historical Society event, said the value-added tax ‘was not as toxic an idea' as it has been in the past and also said a carbon or other energy-related tax may become necessary," Reuters reported.
"If at the end of the day we need to raise taxes, we should raise taxes," Volcker added that day. In Europe, VAT taxes range from about 16 percent to 25 percent with an average of roughly 20 percent, according to Olivier Garret of Casey Research. Garrett, who grew up in France, called the VAT "a license to steal without people knowing it."
As the old cliché goes, you don't use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but according to Rick Santelli, that's exactly what it appears the Obama administration is doing terms of financial regulation and fiscal discipline.
On CNBC's Feb. 2 broadcast of "Fast Money," host Melissa Lee proposed that taxing the wealthy is not the path to "economic prosperity and fiscal stability." Santelli, the network's CME Group floor reporter, agreed.
"Well, you're right," Santelli said. "But I also think you're going to see when the Bush tax cuts expire, a lot of middle class write-offs and exemptions and various tax benefits will also fall by the wayside. Not the least of which to mention, I have so many friends that work for the financial industry. And they've learned from the government, even if you only make $25,000 to $125,000 a year, one firm says if you leave to go into another job or whatever, anything outside retirement, they're going to keep 10-to-20 percent of the stock they took from you following the government's directives."
It was initially thought the election of President Barack Obama was just going to hit your pocketbook in the form of higher taxes. But if the past several days are any indication, the president has found another way to hit it - by attacking your stock portfolio.
On CNBC's Jan. 25 "Mad Money," host Jim Cramer advised his viewers to be aware of this and to strategically position their stock portfolio with an eye on Obama and Washington's expanded role in the private economy.
"In the last week the world of investing has been turned upside down by Washington," Cramer said. "We can no longer afford to look at stocks the same way we did before the GOP upset in Massachusetts. With the Obama administration now on an anti-shareholder rampage, we now have to factor in political risk when we evaluate different sectors. And the risk may be higher than anytime since Jimmy Carter, who truly hated profits, especially if they were big. In the midst of earnings season, suddenly politics has become just as important as revenue growth or market share gains or earnings' beats. So we need a new prism for valuing stocks."
Is the luster finally wearing off the love affair between the White House press corps and President Barack Obama? It is, if CBS White House correspondent Chip Reid's analysis of President Barack Obama's latest Wall Street proposals is anything to go by.
"Well, you know, it's really the same as it's all been," Reid said. "That there's some unease about both of them, but the President has been satisfied with the jobs they've done. Behind the scenes, they both still have a lot of control. They lost this battle to Volcker, but now they're on board on this new plan for Wall Street, although it really sounds more like politics than a real plan because it's hard to believe it would get through."
There's a lot of uncertainty with the U.S. economy and a lot of its recovery hinges on some key policy decisions due from the federal government.
On CNBC's Nov. 2 "The Kudlow Report," CNBC host Maria Bartiromo discussed her interview with former Chairman of the Federal Reserve and Obama adviser Paul Volcker from the Global Financial Leadership Conference in Naples, Fla. One of the topics Bartiromo reported on from the conference was the possibility the Bush tax cuts would be allowed to expire, which she insisted is unlikely.
You might know Barack Obama as the most liberal member of the Senate, a hyper-partisan who toed the Harry Reid line an amazing 97% of the time. But Andrea Mitchell sees in Obama a bipartisan president in the making. Appearing on Morning Joe today, Mitchell came close to speaking of an Obama presidency as a given, just managing to curb her enthusiasm. And wait till you see the people she cited as evidence of Obama's bipartisan proclivity.