Yesterday in Miami, President Obama had this to say about the Tax Day protesters:
OBAMA: We cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans just like I promised we would on the campaign. […] So I’ve been a little amused over the last couple days where people have been having these rallies about taxes. You would think they would be saying, “Thank you!” That’s what you’d think!
Obama’s comment, of course, ignores the massive spending and deficit increases that he’s presided over, but what about this claim that he cut taxes for 95% of Americans ?
Yea, well that doesn’t really hold water either.
First of all, the tax referred to, the Making Work Pay tax credit doesn’t amount to much of anything:
Q: What are some of the tax breaks in the bill?
Recently, former Vice President Dan Quayle offered his two cents about the tea party movement:
Like many influential causes before it, the “tea party” movement appeared on the scene uninvited by the political establishment. Democrats in the White House and in Congress recognize it for what it is — a spontaneous and pointed response to the Obama agenda — but some Republican leaders still aren’t sure what to make of it, as tea partiers have risen on their own and stirred up trouble in GOP primaries.
The tea party movement is not exclusively a reaction only to “the Obama agenda”. And if the GOP buys into that, they’re buying trouble. Quayle even acknowledges that without knowing it when he talks about trouble in Republican primaries.
This grass roots movement didn’t begin when Obama took office or in reaction to his specific agenda, but instead began to form during the Bush administration as government continued to expand. About the time TARP found its way into the political lexicon, it went public. It was the size of the crisis and response – the trillions of dollars thrown around like confetti – that finally spurred people into the streets and birthed the official “tea party movement”.
I really wish that were true, Bruce, but Quayle is right.
The Wall Street Journal reports that when lawmakers receive per-diem money for official travel, it’s typical for them to pocket the leftover cash instead of returning it to the Treasury—that, or they spend it on gifts and souvenirs:
When lawmakers travel overseas on official business they are given up to $250 a day in taxpayer funds to cover meals and expenses. Congressional rules say they must return any leftover cash to the government.
They usually don’t.
…”There’s a tacit understanding that if lawmakers don’t spend the money, they get to keep it,” said Rep. Sue Kelly, a New York Republican who was defeated in 2006.
…Rep. Joe Wilson (R., S.C.) said he once bought marble goblets in the Kabul airport as gifts for constituents. Rep. Mark Souder (R., Ind.) said he dipped into his funds to buy a $200 painting of an estuary in Turkey, which hung in his office for a while and was now in his house.
This is not a lot of money when you consider the trillions of dollars that make up the federal budget. But the concept that it might be innapropriate to spend taxpayer money for personal reasons seems to be completely lost on our elected officials.
And here’s the real kicker: When asked about taxpayer money he uses for non-official purposes, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla) replied, “I’m a generous spirit and a courteous spirit. I stand accused.”
Yes, Mr. Hastings, it certainly is easy to be generous when you’re spending other people’s money.
The Senate passed Porkulus III by a vote of 70-28 with 13 Republicans demonstrating their party’s new found fiscal conservatism by crossing over to vote with every Democrat present for the bill. Like the first Porkulus signed by George W. Bush in 2008 and the Porkulus II passed last year, Porkulus III forks over billions of borrowed dollars to fund various special interest projects and tax gimmicks in the name of “creating jobs”.
The gimmicks funded in this lastest round of Porkulus include a tax holiday for the remainder of the year on Social Security payroll taxes, but only if the company hires someone out of work for more than 60 days. In addition, Porkulus commits to billions in in more mass transit spending and more highway projects (ie. more pork barrel spending).
The Senate’s version of Porkulus must be sent over to the House where it must be reconciled with the House’s much more expansive $154 billion Porkulus bill. However, the Senate plans to pass more items in the House’s bill one at a time so that Senate Majority Harry Reid and other Democrat leaders can find out how much the prices of the votes of “fiscally conservative” Republicans are.
Included are proposed Senate bills giving away corporate welfare to ethanol producers, which is expected to be supported by farm state Republicans. In addition, there is another planned Senate bill to keep Americans out of work longer by extending unemployment benefits and COBRA.
The RINOs who supported Porkulus III today are:
On Thursday, the US Senate voted to restore pay go rules on a party line vote. President Obama praised the restoration of the PAYGO rule. Obama supporter Andrew Sullivan used the vote as a club to attack Republicans. Republicans opposed the restoration of pay go calling it a backdoor attempt to raise taxes. However, the PAYGO rule is at best a dual edged sword. While PAYGO is an excellent for controlling and limiting deficit spending, it does very little to limit the size and growth of the Federal government.
The PAYGO or “pay as you go” rule simply calls for any increase of mandatory spending or reduction in revenue (ie. taxes) must be offset by decreases in discretionary spending or increases in revenue (taxes). Mandatory spending is things like Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, pay for Federal employees, paying debt, and other welfare programs such as Food Stamps and Veterans benefits. Mandatory spending is nearly 60% of the Federal budget. Discretionary spending is everything that Congress has to pass legislation to authorize.
How PAYGO Is Fiscally Responsible:
Politico is reporting that President Barack Obama will call for a freeze on non-defense discretionary spending in the run up to his State of the Union address to Congress on Wednesday:
President Obama plans to announce a three-year freeze on discretionary, “non-security” spending in the lead-up Wednesday’s State of the Union address, Hill Democratic sources familiar with the plan tell POLITICO.
The move, intended to blunt the populist backlash against Obama’s $787 billion stimulus and an era of trillion-dollar deficits — and to quell Democratic anxiety over last Tuesday’s Massachusetts Senate election — is projected to save $250 billion, the Democrats said.
The freeze would not apply to defense spending or spending on intelligence, homeland security or veterans.
The move would likely be welcomed by Blue Dog Democrats and deficit hawks, but party liberals would likely bridle at baselining a wide array of popular domestic spending programs.
It sounds like a big deal, but this will only save $250 billion over the next 10 years. Non-defense discretionary spending makes up only a small portion of the overall annual budget. In the $3.5 trillion FY 2010 budget, only $477 billion is non-defense discretionary spending. That’s around 14% of total spending and less than half of total discretionary spending (including defense).
This freeze would not effect “mandatory spending,” including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which accounts for over $2 trillion in spending.
It’s the last day of 2009. We made it through a crazy year that saw liberty put at risk on an all to regular basis. We decided the best way to recap the year was to take ten of 2009’s biggest stories and write a blurb about each one of them (we tried to keep it short and to the point).
Before you continue on, each of us here at UL want to thank you for a great 2009. We appreciate you reading. We’re planning for world domination in 2010 and hope that you’ll join in the fun.
So, here they are in no particular order, United Liberty’s Top 10 Stories from 2009.
Tea Party Movement (Brett Bittner): The wave of “hope” and “change” that swept Barack Obama into the Presidency of the United States closed out 2008 and opened the door to a new movement in American politics, the Tea Party movement. I believe that his election was merely a catalyst for many groups of a conservative nature and strong views on limited government to unite to form one voice to stand up to the political status quo, calling out Democrats and Republicans alike for their affinity to grow the size of government to a breaking point.
The folks over at Campaign for Liberty show us the explosion in government spending in the last two years, from spending just over 30% of gross domestic product (GDP) at all level of government combined to 40%.
With that, 19% of federal government employees make $100,000 a year or more, according to an article in USA Today, and that’s up 5% in the last 18 months.
While the economy continues to perform poorly and job losses are still racking up, the federal government continues to grow and consume more resources.
After attending several Atlanta area health care town hall forums sponsored by legislators in support of HR 3200, I decided to participate in one hosted by MY Congressman, Representative Phil Gingrey (R-GA, 11th). I should note that I did not vote for or against Dr. Gingrey in 2008, as I lived in Georgia’s 13th Congressional District then. The convenience of the location of August 31st’s event could not have been better, unless it took place in my living room (the Cobb Civic Center is across the street from my neighborhood), however a 5:30 PM start time made it difficult for many constituents to attend.
I arrived at the Civic Center shortly after 5 PM to find a parking lot approximately half-full, some cars present as early as 3:30 PM. Outside the venue, there were a few individuals and groups handing literature to those entering, including members of GOP gubernatorial candidate, John Oxendine’s You Can Stop ObamaCare. I expected police-enforced restrictions that I encountered at previous town hall events, so my only tool to capture and share media of the event was my cell phone.
Once inside, I noted many of Rep. Gingrey’s older constituents in attendance, as I expected from reports of his previous forums on the subject. I also expected that most in attendance would be opposed to the health care reform bill known as HR 3200, also known as “ObamaCare,” like their Congressman, Rep. Gingrey. There were a handful of
The talk of a second stimulus is beginning to pick up. It should go without saying that I do not support any additional “stimulus” - but, regardless of my views on the pros and cons, the whole debate needs to be viewed from a different perspective. Instead of Republicans and Democrats debating policy, or economists discussing multipliers and the GDP gap, we should focus on the failure of central planning.