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Liberalism: Why think when you can “feel”?

Hilldawg and W-Buff pining away for higher taxes

Thanks to KG for passing this on. During the Shrillary fundraiser last night:

Just in time for the Fourth of July holiday, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y) equated higher taxes with patriotism during the third nationally-televised Democratic Presidential debate Thursday evening.

When asked if she believed Americans were paying enough taxes, Clinton praised billionaire U.S. investor Warren Buffett because, as she said, “He’s honest enough to say, look, tax me because I’m a patriotic American.”

She went on, “We have to change the tax system and we’ve got to get back to having those with the most contribute to this country.”

According to Her Highness’ logic, Dick Cheney is more patriotic than she is, since he pays more in taxes. What an imbecile.

Billionaire Warren Buffet decided to chime in on some economic dishonesty:

Buffett said: “The 400 of us [here] pay a lower part of our income in taxes than our receptionists do, or our cleaning ladies, for that matter. If you’re in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 percent.”

That gives the impression that his secretary, surely a middle-class mother of modest means trying to make ends meet, is not being handsomely compensated…to the point where her tax rate is 30%! Quick show of hands here: who wouldn’t like to be a receptionist for THAT kind of jack?

Obviously, Buffett is no idiot. He is, however, incredibly misleading, as noted by Harvard economics prof Greg Mankiw:

You might wonder how Mr Buffett managed such a low tax rate. Most likely, it arose because corporate dividends and capital gains are taxed at only 15 percent. But the corporate income that funded those returns was already taxed at the corporate level, where the tax rate is 35 percent. Mr Buffett seems to be ignoring the first round of taxation. Is it possible that the world’s most successful has failed to pierce the corporate veil? (If you want to more reliable data on the progressivity of the tax code, see this old post for numbers from the CBO.)

Even more striking to me is a fact that Mr Buffett did not emphasize: how low his taxable income is. His income of $46 million represents a mere 0.1 percent of his reported net worth of over $50 billion. That is not an impressive rate of return!

Why is it so low? I can think of at least four possible ways investors like Mr Buffet can keep their taxable income, as opposed to their true income, low:

1. They hold stocks that pay minimal dividends.
2. They avoid realizing capital gains.
3. They hold some of their portfolios in tax-free municipal bonds.
4. They give appreciated assets to charity, getting a deduction for the current market value without ever having to realize and pay tax on the capital gain.

Notice that raising tax rates, as Mr Buffett seems to want to do, would not much affect any of these tax avoidance strategies. Even if tax rates were raised substantially, the tax savvy Mr Buffet probably wouldn’t be paying much in taxes as a proportion of his wealth or as a proportion of his true income.

In other words, higher tax rates would have a minimal effect on Buffett, but a HUGE effect on others who don’t earn their money the same way he does. How convenient!

Buffett still pays a gazillion bucks more in income tax than his secretary does, but he’s misleading about the rate of taxation on income. Then again, the left usually does get Kerryesque about taxes and tax cuts. The tax rate was cut by a smaller percentage for rich folks than it was for everyone else, but the Dems still scream “Tax cuts for the rich” because the totals (not the rate) were higher. Example: a man paying $10,000/year in taxes gets a 50% cut, and thus pays $5,000/year in taxes; a rich man paying $1 million/year in taxes gets a 1% cut, and thus pays $990,000/year in taxes. The left bitches about the $10k cut the rich guy got when the poorer guy only got $5k…never mind that the poorer guy got a 49% bigger tax cut and the rich guy still paid damned near a cool million in taxes.

Yet all of a sudden, now they want to focus on rate when Warren Buffett wants to use his secretary in an example. Geez, guys, pick a talking point and stick to it!

Plus, if Buffett feels that he’s not paying enough to Uncle Sam to grow the bloated imperial monster in DC, he is more than free to cut a check as big as he sees fit and feed the bureaucracy beast. But that would take the sport out of the class envy game, wouldn’t it?

Concludes Her Highness:

“So, yes, we have to change the tax system. And we’ve got to get back to having those with the most contribute to this country.”

Right…because they don’t pay nearly enough in taxes, do they? Oh, wait… (click to enlarge)

Top 40% pays 3/4 of federal taxes. Shrillary et al say “That’s not enough!”


June 29, 2007 Posted by | economic ignorance | 1 Comment

Big Government kicks diabetic elderly man off of train in middle of forest

With this level of incompetence, why would anyone want Big Government to run our health care system (among other things)? From the New Editor:

If you’re among those who are amazed by the seeming incompetence of the government at almost every turn lately, whether it be the White House, Congress … whatever, this story will fit that impression quite well…

From (emphasis added)

A 65-year-old St. Louis man is missing after Amtrak personnel, mistaking his diabetic shock for drunk and disorderly behavior, kicked him off a train in the middle of a national forest, according to police in Williams, Ariz.

Police said Roosevelt Sims was headed to Los Angeles but was asked to leave the train shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday at a railroad crossing five miles outside Williams.

“He was let off in the middle of a national forest, which is about 800,000 acres of beautiful pine trees,” Lt. Mike Graham said.

Police said there is no train station or running water at the crossing, which is about two miles from the nearest road, at an elevation of about 8,000 feet.

Amtrak personnel told police dispatchers that Sims was drunk and unruly.

The Sims family said Sims is diabetic and was going into shock.

Forget the misdiagnosis concerning his behavior — how can you you throw someone off a train in the middle of a national forest, two miles from the nearest road???

June 29, 2007 Posted by | shameful | Leave a comment

Amnesty postmortem

Short, sweet, and to the point from Instapundit:

My advice for next time:

(1) Make the process open, transparent, and timely, with hearings, drafts on the Internet, and no last-minute bills that no one has read;

(2) Earn people’s trust, don’t demand it, and treat enforcement like it matters;

(3) Respect people who follow the law, and make legal immigration easier, cheaper, and simpler, rather than the Kafkaesque nightmare it is now;

(4) Don’t feel you have to be “comprehensive” — address the problems you can deal with first. The trust needed to deal with other problems will come later, after you’ve shown some success and some good faith.

I would add “(5) Don’t impugn the motives of people with serious concerns about enforcement, rewarding bad behavior, etc., by calling them ‘bigots’ or ‘xenophobes’. Listen to their concerns, even if your mind doesn’t change.” Friendships have been ruined over this debate because of the tone of the dialogue, not because of the mere presence of the disagreement itself.

I want to dwell on point #4 above, though. I’ve said from the beginning that the “comprehensive”, i.e. “all or nothing” approach was stupid. An analogy to illustrate its absurdity:

You’re in your home during a tropical storm/hurricane. A hole’s in in your roof and ceiling, and water beings pouring in. Your house also needs some other repairs: the carpet in the bedroom is peeling up in the corner, the bathroom closet’s doorknob is horribly loose and probably needs replacing, the stopper in the bathtub is missing, and the tile floor in your kitchen is cracking near the stove and fridge.

The sensible approach? Fix the hole in your roof and ceiling NOW to stop the rain from gushing in! For Pete’s sake, those other problems can wait! If you try fixing the other problems now without sealing your roof/ceiling, those other problems will be irrelevant, because your house will be so badly water-damaged that the other fixes will have been for naught.

The “comprehensive” approach? “I’m not going to fix the hole in my roof and ceiling until I figure out what to do about the carpet, doorknob, stopper, and tile floor. It’s all or nothing!”

But hey, wasn’t “border security” party of the amnesty…er, “comprehensive”…package? Sure it was. It was also part of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 in October of last year, which authorized and ordered the building of nearly 900 miles of double-reinforced barriers along major points of criminal immigration entry into the U.S. to be completed no later than April 2008. While there is still roughly ten months left for the completion, our government has thus far completed a whopping…13 miles!

Therefore, our politicians are going to have to forgive us peons for not exactly having the utmost of confidence in their desire/ability to secure the border. It’s simple: secure the border, first and foremost, like you said you would do in 1986 and then again in 2006. Cracking down on employers (via an employer verification system) is a fantastic idea, as is fining the violating employers with a fine so stiff that it strips them of any financial incentive to turn a blind eye to criminal immigrants. Deporting illegal aliens who are in jail for other crimes (not just criminal breaking-and-entering into our country) is a no-brainer, which is why many liberal politicians voted that down.

However, until the aforementioned and aforepromised border enforcement is done, don’t talk to us about amnesty or “comprehensive” or whatever else.

June 29, 2007 Posted by | illegal immigration | Leave a comment

Jesse Jr.: Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

From Rep. John Campbell:

Federal Funding for Phantom Airport
Today I introduced an amendment to the Financial Services Appropriations bill that would strip taxpayer funding for the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission in Illinois designated for “minority and small business development and procurement opportunities”. Now I find nothing wrong with minority and small business development; I’m a businessman myself. My problem with this earmark is that Abraham Lincoln National Airport doesn’t exist. There are no long lines, crowded terminals, or delayed flights at this airport. There’s not a single passenger there. The truth is, Abraham Lincoln National Airport only exists in concept which has been developed by Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. – who requested the $231,000 for this project.

Here are some facts that you may find interesting:

· The Executive Director for the Airport Commission is Richard Bryant, who also happens to be the Deputy District Administrator for Jackson’s Congressional office.

· Congressman Jackson was the main catalyst behind forming the Airport Commission.

· From a 4/13/06 press release from Congressman Jackson’s own campaign, the Airport commission “plans to launch an advertising campaign urging (Illinois) Gov. Rod Blagojevich to lease it the land the state is acquiring for the airfield.” From the same press release, “So far, the commission has raised about $100,000, said Jackson aide Rick Bryant, the commission’s executive director.”

· Later that same year, on November 16, 2006, Congressman Jackson issued a press release from his official office where he promised to not seek federal funding for the airport. “So even with the change of leadership in Congress, I won’t pursue federal funding for the Abraham Lincoln National Airport. Chicago’s share of federal dollars is already committed to O’Hare modernization.”

Congressman Jackson’s request for $231,000 for this non-existent airport, to a commission managed by one of his top congressional staffers that so far has only commissioned an advertising/lobbying campaign, only months after Congressman Jackson himself promised to not request federal funds for this commission, are all reason’s why I introduced this amendment to remove these taxpayer provided funds from the Financial Services Appropriations bill. There are some very important questions that Congressman Jackson’s constituents and all taxpayers deserve answered.

The “culture of corruption” chugs along.

June 29, 2007 Posted by | corruption | Leave a comment

Coulter’s latest flap, but she fires back

By now, many of you have heard that just a couple of months or so after jokingly (though in p#sspoor taste) referring to the Breck Girl as “fa&&ot”, the mean ol’ beanpole Ann Coulter wished a painful death on the beloved Silky Pony. She said “If I’m going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I’ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.”

Wow. Hard to defend that, huh? Well, not really, once you look at the entire line that lead up to it. While speaking to Chris Cuomo on Good Morning America, the following exchange took place (courtesy of Newsbusters):

Coulter: “Though about the same time, Bill Maher said– And, by the way I did not call John Edwards the F-word. I said I couldn’t talk about him because you could go into rehab for using that word.”

Cuomo: “You said you were joking. You were joking.”

Coulter: “Oh, yeah. Yeah. I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t insult gays by comparing them to John Edwards. That would be mean. (Now THAT is funny! “Not funny haha, funny queer…mmm-hmmm!” – Ed.) But about the same time, you know, Bill Maher was not joking and saying he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack. So, I’ve learned my lesson. If I’m going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I’ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.”

I mentioned at The Conservative Manifesto that Coulter should have finished her quote with “I mean, if Bill Maher can say something like that about Dick Cheney and catch no grief from you or your leftist ilk, Chris, then I’m afraid you’re going to have to immunize me from any grief, too.” Not that this would have resulted in any less dishonesty from the left, but it still would have done some good.

At any rate, Coulter has had enough and has struck back with both barrels blazing. Her retort is here (please read it…you must read it!), and a couple of excerpts follow:

The Edwards campaign is apparently still running low on donations, so this week they went back to their top fundraiser: me.

Say, did any TV host ever surprise Al Franken, Bill Maher or Arianna Huffington with a call by the wife of someone they’ve made nasty remarks about? How about a call to John Edwards from the wife of a doctor he bankrupted with his junk-science lawsuits?

The usual nut Web sites posted a zillion denunciations of my appearance on “Good Morning America” immediately after I appeared Monday morning. But it didn’t occur to any of them to simply lie about what I had said. No, it took them nearly 36 hours to concoct a version of that quote that included the Edwards part, but not the Maher part, or what English language speakers call: “the point.”

By tomorrow it will be: “Ann Coulter tried to kill John Edwards on ‘Good Morning America’!”

Let me also quote from campaign consultant Bob Shrum’s book “No Excuses”:

“(Kerry) was even queasier about Edwards after they met. Edwards had told Kerry he was going to share a story with him that he’d never told anyone else — that after his son Wade had been killed, he climbed onto the slab at the funeral home, laid there and hugged his body, and promised that he’d do all he could to make life better for people, to live up to Wade’s ideals of service. Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted the same exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before — and with the same preface, that he’d never shared the memory with anyone else. Kerry said he found it chilling, and he decided he couldn’t pick Edwards unless he met with him again.”

Apparently every time Edwards began a story about his dead son with “I’ve never told anyone this before,” everyone on the campaign could lip-sync the story with him.

John Edwards injects his son’s fatal car accident into his campaign by demanding that everyone notice how he refuses to inject his son’s fatal car accident into his campaign.

Manifestly, I was not making fun of their son’s death; I was making fun of John Edwards’ incredibly creepy habit of invoking his son’s tragic death to advance his political career — a practice so repellant, it even made John Kerry queasy.

I’m a little tired of losers trying to raise campaign cash or TV ratings off of my coattails, particularly when they use their afflictions or bereavement schedules to try to silence the opposition. From now on, I’m attacking only serious presidential candidates, like Dennis Kucinich.

Ouch. That’s gonna leave a mark.

June 29, 2007 Posted by | Ann Coulter, John Edwards, media bias | Leave a comment