Yesterday, I noted that President Barack Obama’s latest proposal to target so-called “oil speculators” with regulations and increased fines is yet just another way for him to cast blame instead of working towards policies that would increase supply, which is what most analysts say is causing uncertainity and thereby higher gas prices. It’s another gimmick, for sure, but the rhetoric may be effective since most voters don’t understand the basic economics of how the market works.
But the Washington Post is criticizing Obama’s “crackdown,” noting that his latest gimmick will do absolutely nothing to lower gas prices, leaving Americans with more empty promises and more failed leadership:
The White House insisted Tuesday that high volume and volatility in oil markets suggest that regulators need more tools to monitor and control them. But a senior administration official deflected questions about whether regulators have detected any hint of manipulation and would not give an example of the sort of rigging the president suspected regulators might find with more resources. The official instead repeatedly pointed to Enron — a scandal involving electricity, not oil, markets. So the argument boils down to: “Maybe the CFTC will find something, we don’t really know what.”
Even with Americans still struggling to keep with high gas prices, President Barack Obama yesterday targeted the oil industry with more proposed regulations — once again offering nothing in the way of real solutions to increase oil supply. The Los Angeles Times notes that Obama wants more money for regulators and more penalties for what “manipulation” of the oil market:
Facing heat for high gasoline prices, President Obama tried to shift the focus to Congress, Republicans and energy traders, calling for legislation that he said would “put more cops on the beat” to crack down on potential manipulation of the oil market.
Obama called on Congress to provide more money for regulators and increase penalties for market manipulators. The president, flanked by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., suggested that traders and speculators are affecting the price of oil and digging into Americans’ pocketbooks.
“We can’t afford a situation where some speculators can reap millions while millions of American families get the short end of the stick,” Obama said in brief remarks in the Rose Garden on Tuesday. “That’s not the way the market should work.”
Obama’s proposal would add $52 million to the budget for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which oversees oil futures markets, to pay for improved technology and additional employees. The president also proposed increasing the maximum civil and criminal penalties for manipulative activity in oil futures markets and beefing up data collection.
As I noted yesterday, it’s unlikely that we’ve heard the last from President Barack Obama about the so-called “Buffett Rule,” a new tax proposed on higher income earners. The idea is sure to be a central part of his campaign rhetoric, a way to divert attention away from his own failed record.
The arguments for the tax were initially that it was needed to help with deficit reduction. However, the Buffett Rule would bring in around $5 billion annually — less than a half-day of spending from Washington, and virtually nothing when compared to the $1.4 trillion budget deficit for the current fiscal year. Moreover, if it’s revenue you want, then why not just legalize marijuana, which, as Philip Klein noted yesterday, would bring in more revenue than the Buffett Rule:
The Buffett tax, which failed to advance in the Senate last night, would have raised $5.1 billion in 2013 (theoretically its first full year of implementation), according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. Yet a 2010 study by the libertarian Cato Institute found that legalizing marijuana alone would save the federal government $3.3 billion in reduced enforcement expenditures per year and raise an additional $5.8 billion in revenue assuming it would be taxed. If all drugs were legalized, the study estimated it would save the federal government $15.6 billion a year and raise an additional $31.2 billion in revenue — for a total of $46.8 billion. That’s slightly higher than the $46.7 billion the Buffett Rule tax is projected to raise over the full decade.
Count me among those that believe Mitt Romney — or any Republican, for that matter — will have a tough time defeating Barack Obama in the fall. It’s not that Romney can’t win, but his lackluster primary campaign doesn’t exactly bode well for his future.
Whether conservatives want to admit it or not, Romney is probably their best hope for beating Obama. The only other candidate that was running close with him was Ron Paul, who never had a real shot at being the nominee. There is little doubt, however, that this election is going to be close, as Gallup’s first tracking poll indicated yesterday:
For all the pessimism, Obama’s number still aren’t that great. The Washington Examiner noted yesterday that his numbers are worse than Gerald Ford’s, who was going up against Jimmy Carter in 1976, at the same point in the campaign. And with a still-slow economy, high unemployment, and a river of red ink still flowing from Washington, Obama is going to throw everything he can at Romney to keep attention of him and his poor number.
Of course, we still have more than six months to go until election day, and anything can and will happen. But for Republicans that believe Romney can’t take down Obama, this should be a bright spot.
After going through a drawn-out primary, Mitt Romney announced yesterday that his campaign has started its search for a running mate:
Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee, said Monday that his search for a running mate has officially begun.
Romney’s longtime adviser Beth Myers, who was his chief of staff when he was governor of Massachusetts, is leading the vice presidential vetting process.
“She’s begun that process and is putting together the kinds of things you need to do to vet potential candidates,” Romney told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in an interview airing Monday night on “ABC World News” and “Nightline.”
Romney said he plans to have made his pick by the time of the GOP convention, which begins in Tampa, Fla., on Aug. 27.
There has obviously been a lot of speculation about this, even before Romney secured the nomination. Pundits have been making their predictions or offering up short-lists that Romney may choose from. And much like other pundits, the question of who Romney will choose has been something I’ve been thinking about for the last few weeks.
Paul Ryan: While many conservatives would like the idea of Ryan on the ticket, it doesn’t make sense. Sure, Romney has expressed support for budget passed by House Republicans, but picking Ryan would offer up more because he would be picking a member of Congress, of which Americans have a very low opinion.
Despite the push from President Barack Obama, his campaign team, and Democrats, the 30% tax on millionaires — dubbed the “Buffett Rule” — unsurprisingly went down yesterday evening in the Senate:
The Senate rejected consideration Monday of the “Buffett rule ,” a key election-year Democratic initiative that would impose a minimum tax rate on those making more than $1 million per year, as a philosophical debate over taxes that will define this year’s elections occurred on Capitol Hill.
Democrats were unable to get the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster and proceed to a full consideration of the measure, with the Senate voting 51 to 45 to move ahead. The vote was largely along party lines, although Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) voted with Democrats to allow the measure to proceed and Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.) voted to block it.
As noted above, it was mostly a party line vote, but if you want to see how your Senators voted you can view the roll call here.
Unfortunately, the vote doesn’t mean the end of this charade over tax hikes. We’ve noted before that the Buffett Rule wouldn’t have brought in much in terms of revenue, approximately $47 billion over 10 years — or just under $5 billion annually; less than half a day of spending. And that small amount of revenue would literally be nothing compared to the trillion dollar budget deficits we’ve seen coming out of Washington in recent years.
It’s a day that nearly all of us dread. We have to make sure that our tax forms are filled our properly and all of our documents are correctly included and send them off to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), hoping that we at least get some money back. Others of us cross our fingers and pray that we don’t get audited on the return at some point later in the future.
But Tax Day always gives us a chance to talk about tax reform, which almost seems like a unicorn in today’s political climate. Some, including the White House, want to use the term as a way to raise taxes on politically convenient targets. Others, like Rep. Paul Ryan, are proposing a watered down, though mildly better, system that somewhat simplifies our tax code. Unfortunately, those of us wanting a system that eliminates ridiculous tax breaks and credits while at the same time creating a tax code that encourages investment and economic growth are left wanting.
Over at the Cato Institute, Chris Edwards explains why our current tax code is a complete mess and how compliance costs are hurting the economy and taxpayers, no matter where they fall on the income scale:
The federal tax code is getting uglier every year as politicians from both parties add more credits, deductions and other special breaks. In the first year of the income tax in 1913, the 1040 tax form came with just one page of instructions. This year the instruction book for the 1040 is 189 pages long.
That’s just one IRS tax form, but there are more than 500 others. Consider, for example, that the number of special tax breaks for energy has soared from 11 in 1995 to 26 today, and each break has separate tax forms, instructions, regulations and other paperwork.
At some point today, the Senate will take up the so-called “Buffett Rule,” the proposed tax on higher-income earners that President Barack Obama and Democrats say is a matter of “fairness” in the tax code. No one expects that the proposal will pass, and even if it did, the House wouldn’t take it up.
President Obama has been discussing the Buffett Rule on the campaign trail, backing off earlier assertions that it would help raise revenue in a significant way. Recently, he claimed that Ronald Reagan, an iconic figure in the conservative movement, would have supported the proposal:
President Barack Obama said the White House proposed “Buffet Rule” could be named the “Reagan Rule,” referring to former Republican President Ronald Reagan as a “wild-eyed, Socialist, tax hiking class warrior.”
“This president gave another speech where he said it was ‘crazy’ — that’s a quote — that certain tax loopholes make it possible for multimillionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary,” Obama said at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building Wednesday. “That wild-eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior was Ronald Reagan.”
Obama floated the idea of renaming the “Buffet Rule,” which would require individuals making over $1 million annually to pay at least 30 percent in federal income taxes.
“If it’ll help convince folks in Congress to make the right choice, we could call it the ‘Reagan Rule’ instead of the ‘Buffett Rule,’” Obama said.
As polls show President Barack Obama to be vulnerable on gas prices, someone is finally getting the message and hitting him on the issues. American Crossroads released an ad this week hitting Obama for blaming others and doing nothing to easy the pain Americans are feeling at the pump:
And now that gas prices are rising faster under Obama than they did under Jimmy Carter, expect to see more ads like this during the summer.
If the Supreme Court decides to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, they may make President Barack Obama angry, but according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, Americans will be happy.
While the White House and Democrats continuing to claim that the public will benefit from ObamaCare, the poll, which is heavily skewed towards Democrats, shows that a majority of Americans oppose the law and two-thirds believing that the Supreme Court should throw out at least the individual mandate:
Fifty-three percent of Americans now oppose the law overall, while just 39 percent support it – the latter the lowest in more than a dozen ABC/Post polls since August 2009. “Strong” critics, at 40 percent, outnumber strong supporters by nearly a 2-1 margin in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.
Two-thirds continue to say the high court should throw out either the entire law (38 percent) or at least the part that requires most individuals to obtain coverage (29 percent) or face a penalty; just a quarter want the court to uphold the law as is. Those numbers, like views on the law overall, are essentially unchanged from a month ago.
Again, this is a poll that is tilted toward Democrats and they still can’t find substantial support for ObamaCare, which is the most touted domestic achievement of the administration. Here’s hoping the Supreme Court does the right thing in overturning the law, regardless of the empty threats from Obama.